KAIST kicks out 6 Indians; Suh’s experiment in jeopardy
KAIST President Suh Nam-pyo
By Na Jeong-ju
Six Indian students have been expelled from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), one of the country’s top universities, for presenting fabricated award certificates to gain admission, the school said Thursday.
The students were admitted between 2009 and 2011 and had been taking undergraduate courses at KAIST until the discovery that the certificates were fakes. The question is: Were they the only foreign students who entered the school illegally?
This case couldn’t happen at a worse time for KAIST President Suh Nam-pyo, who has been under mounting pressure to resign, from inside and outside the school. It adds more uncertainty to the fate of the 76-year-old former MIT professor.
The school cancelled the admissions for the Indian students on May 14 and expelled them — the first time in KAIST’s history for any foreign student to be kicked out due to admission fraud.
“The forged certificates were copies of those issued to winners of a mathematical Olympiad in India,” said Kim Dong-soo, a KAIST official. “We’ve taken measures to toughen the screening of documents submitted by applicants. We are also checking if there have been more fabrication cases.”
The school admits some 50 foreign students annually. About 170 foreign students from more than 30 countries are now studying at KAIST.
School officials said another former Indian student was involved in the forgery. The student, whose identity was withheld, was suspended from the school in 2010 while taking a Ph.D. course at KAIST after he was found to have copied students’ answer sheets.
He allegedly forged the award certificates for the six students in return for money. Each student paid him some 5 million won ($4,200), according to the school.
The case raises questions about the school’s application screening system. Three of the six expelled students had almost finished their undergraduate courses and were to graduate next year.
It is expected to damage KAIST’s reputation at home and abroad, and is discouraging for the school’s president as well.
Suh is embroiled in disputes over the patent of technologies developed by KAIST professors while conducting school-funded research projects. Some professors have complained that many technologies they developed were registered in his name.
Equally pressing is the series of suicides inside the school since last year. Five students and a professor have taken their own lives, which critics say resulted from Suh’s reckless push for restructuring. Suh has introduced programs to spur competition among students as well was within the faculty since becoming the school’s president in 2006. In 2010 he secured a second four-year term.
Suh’s experiment for competition-oriented education is now in jeopardy.
“Suh has advocated extreme competition among students and professors to boost KAIST’s global profile. His excessive ambition and arbitrary school management made everybody unhappy here,” said a professor, asking not to be named.
An increasing number of professors and students have demanded his resignation, but he has refused to quit. The professors’ association last month launched a campaign to oust Suh after a majority of professors voted against him. The student council also demanded his immediate departure following a selective vote.