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Large Korea University Delegation Studies How UCLA Is Organized
John Duncan briefs Korea University delegation.

Large Korea University Delegation Studies How UCLA Is Organized

23 faculty and administrators from Korea University meet with Korea Center director, Undergraduate Admissions head, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Academic Services.

Gohar Grigorian Email GoharGrigorian

A comparatively huge delegation from Korea University, one of South Korea's top-ranked institutions of higher learning, met with several leading administrators at UCLA June 27, to gather information on how UCLA is run. The 23 faculty and administrators came directly from Seoul to Los Angeles on a fact-finding mission. The group included representatives from Korea University's Student Affairs division and  Academic Affairs with both graduate and undergraduate sections represented. Korea University is a highly regarded research institution with an enrollment of 34,000 students. It is a little older than UCLA, having been founded in 1905, compared to UCLA's 1919.

The KU group was headed by UCLA alumni Hosun Rhim, Ph.D., now an Associate Professor in Korea University's Business School.

The group met first with Professor John Duncan, director of the Center for Korean Studies. Duncan conducted the meeting in Korean and gave the guests an overview of the Korean Studies Center and of the UC system.

How UCLA Students Are Selected

Their second meeting was with Dr. Vu Tran, director of Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools, who gave them an overview of the undergraduate admissions. He discussed the complexities of weighing elements of students' backgrounds under California's Proposition 209, which prohibits use of "race, religion, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin as criteria for admissions." At the same time the legal criteria for admission prohibits using academic ability alone for choosing successful candidates. In the College of Letters and Science there is a three-fold criteria, which weighs academic ranking, personal achievements ranking, and "life challenge level."

Academics in this system are a combination of grade point average, SAT II scores, and a review of how many advanced classes were taken in high school. The personal achievements ranking looks at various kinds of honors and awards, volunteer work and community service, and extracurricular activities and work experience. The life challenge factors include such things as low income, levels of parental education, physical disabilities, health issues, etc.

Financial Aid for Low-Income Students

At their last meeting the Korean University delegation spoke with Thomas Lifka, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Academic Services. They were particularly interested in how the university pays for financial aid for low-income students. One Korea University visitor asked Lifka how much of funds collected for tuition is returned to students in scholarships.

Thomas Lifka responded that UC students pay fees, not tuition. This means that they support non-instructional services at UCLA only. The State of California pays for instruction. This is why California resident students don't pay much in tuition, which is only around $4,600 a year for undergraduates. Nonresidents pay an extra $12,480 (without room and board).

Over the past several years, one third of student fees has gone to financial aid, Lifka told the visitors. This is higher than in the past. The aid is grant money for needy students and not loans. The United States government gives grant money to poor students and loans to middle income students. 60% of UCLA students receive some sort of financial assistance.

The Korean visitors were also interested in student-run business enterprises at UCLA. ASUCLA (Associated Students of UCLA) runs the bookstores, food services (restaurants), and the Student Union, among others. ASUCLA has a Board of Directors, and it is comprised mostly of students.

The visit was hosted by the International Institute's International Visitors Bureau. After their meetings the Korea University group had a campus tour led by International Visitors Bureau Assistant Harout Semerdjian, who is a doctoral student in the Department of History. Guests were impressed with the beauty of the UCLA campus, and especially with architecture of Powell Library.

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