Marine University Networks Overseas Alumni
By Kang Shin-who
A worldwide alumni association will be formed for graduates from the state-run Korea Maritime University (KMU). The oceanic studies specialized university plans to network its alumni here and overseas to boost its global competitiveness.
``Our school alumni are playing important roles all over the world and they could link our school to international ocean related companies and organizations. For this, I will form `World KMU Network' by next year,'' said Oh Keo-don, 59, the president of the Busan-based university.
``The alumni network could help our students advance to the world and globalize our school,'' he added. KMU will also introduce more overseas internship and dual degree programs in cooperation with foreign universities.
To cope with the globalization trend, the school students will have to meet higher standards for graduation. ``International cooperation is a must for ocean masters, so our students should be equipped with foreign language skills,'' Oh said in an interview with The Korea Times.
While working to send more students overseas, the school head will invite more foreign nationals to the school. ``I will increase by three-fold the number of foreign professors taking some 13 percent of the faculty and recruit more foreign students so that they take up 10 percent of the total from the current four percent, during my presidency,'' Oh said.
KMU has academic exchanges with 30 domestic universities including Pusan National University and the Naval Academy and some 90 academic institutes overseas such as the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the Australian Maritime College, Plymouth University in the U.K. and Kobe University in Japan.
Established in Incheon in 1919 by the Chosun Government-General Post Bureau High Crew Training Center, KMU opened the Jinhae High Commercial Ship School in 1945 and was renamed to Jinhae Maritime College in the following year and moved to the current location in 1974.
Fostering 30,000 Mariners
It is another big project for the marine school to nurture 30,000 seamen in the next three years. ``Many countries are suffering from shortage of marine officers and our school will be a Mecca providing mariners to all over the world. The project will develop Korea as the strongest ocean country,'' Oh said.
With the ambitious goal, the school head is seeking to integrate all universities in the city into one maritime education system. For example, the school will share its training ship with other universities.
Then, it will expand the academic network to overseas and build a ``World Onboard Training Center,'' where foreign and domestic universities can study and research marine minerals, foods, tourism and energy in cooperation with Russia, Japan and China.
``I expect the global training ship will foster future ocean specialists and it will get support and funds from international maritime organizations,'' Oh said. Furthermore, the university will set up branches in other countries where more seamen are demanded, such as Cambodia, Malaysia and Myanmar.
The president is also working on doubling development funds this year with the plans. At the same time, he will devise more benefit-oriented business projects using the school's competitiveness in ocean study fields, which can secure stable income for the university. Also, the school will offer more dormitory rooms for students.
``The ocean is your new continent. The sea is the blue ocean open to the future of the human race. Students who have passion for the ocean can apply for our school and get much reward,'' Oh said.
The university boasts a high percentage of its graduates landing jobs and more than 70 percent of students benefit from scholarships. It has four departments for undergraduate students; maritime sciences, ocean sciences and technology, engineering, and international studies. It also provides graduate schools on maritime industry, management technology and education.
Graduating from Seoul National University (SNU) in philosophy in 1971, Oh has a masters degree and a Ph.D in public administration from SNU and Dong-A University, respectively. Having served in the Korean navy, Oh headed the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries between January 2005 and March 2006. He was also a visiting scholar at the University of International Business and Economics in 2006. He has been in his current position since March this year.