Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reader Question: Inferring good/bad Korean Unis based on # of foreign teachers

This question from a reader who wishes to remain unnamed:

"I was just thinking about good and bad universities in Korea (horror stories, etc).

Do you think there is any relation or association between the # of foreign English teachers at a university and the quality of the job?

How many foreign ESL teachers do you think a quality university should have?"

 My answer: interesting question that is quite hard to answer.  I can give you an anecdotal answer based on the unis in the city where I live (Cheonan/Asan).  My uni has a lot of foreigners (around 30) and it is also one of the best (possibly the best?) in terms of conditions for the foreign teachers (pay, housing, lack of micro-management, OT opportunities, no time-limit, full vacation, basic respect, etc).  However, the bad teachers get weeded out pretty fast at my uni, and it seems like 1 or 2 people generally get the cut every semester, so while conditions are good, it's not an ideal place for the slacker or someone who can't get along with the other coworkers.

However, there are 2 other unis around here that have lots of foreigners (30-40-50) who have to put up with things like unpaid camps, mandatory Church services, "free-talking" hours, crappy pay, lack of OT, unpredictable management, and sub-par housing.

As far as the unis with significantly less's kind of all over (just like the big unis) in terms of conditions.  So, I think there is really no hard and fast rule!  Just do your due diligence before taking any uni job. 

And the question about how many foreign teachers a uni should have?  Well there are just too many factors to really make any sort of generalization.  Is English mandatory?  One, two, three or four years of English?  Do Koreans teach in the program as well?  Is there a big English department?  Aviation students?  Global Business?  What's the total student enrollment?  Etc, etc, etc, etc!

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