The University Instructor Law is expected to be enacted in August 2019 as the revised bill was passed by the National Assembly in November 2018. Although the law has been present since 2012, it will finally be enforced after being suspended several times due to the university's argument that it is not prepared for poor legislation and system implementation. However, contrary to the law’s original purpose of securing employment of the lecturers and improving their status, the university is disputing random dismissal of lecturers. Let's take a closer look at the lecturer law and its various problems.
What is a time lecturer?
Time lecturers explicitly refers to contracted instructors who only receive "hourly wages" for the amount of time they give lectures at a university. The required qualifications of time instructors vary according to the subject and the university; usually they should have a first degree or higher. They must have a bacelor’s degree after graduating from a four-year college. Then they have to go to graduate school for at least two years and then recieve their master's degree after defending thesis. This means it takes at least six years of study. If these conditions are met, they can be nominated by the department chair. As of November 2018, there were about 76,000 of this type of lecturers in the country. Time lecturers receive an average hourly wage of 80,000 won at national universities and an average hourly wage of 52,200 won at private universities. Within the total budget of universities, the amount of time lecturers' salary is usually 1 ~ 3%. For example it’s 1.65% in Yonsei University and 1.55% in Korea University.
Time lecturers' plea
Time lecturers are employed on a per-semester basis. After the lecture for one semester, there are many cases where the lecture is not available in the following semester. Time lecturer A of Inha University said, “The treatment of the time lecturers is like a short-term part-time job” and also said, “it should be for at least every 6 months so that it can be recognized as a career”. He also said, "I feel that a time lecturer who has to be choked up about the renewal of the contract every semester doesn’t really have a job." Time lecturer B, who works as a time lecturer at the National University of Korea, said, "The 'time lecture' positions in private universities have almost disappeared" and "It is difficult to obtain a place as a time lecturer except for a national university.”
Universities set the income per hour, so there are many time lecturers who have to find extra employment because of their irregular income. Moreover, time lecturers have no income during vacation time. A time lecturer at Sangmyung University had a three-hour lecture each week for 50,000 won per hour, so the amount of money he had in hand was 2.25 million won for one semester (15 weeks) or about 5.50 million won a year. This was far short of the minimum cost of living. He called his experience as a time instructor "a less than part-time life."
Establishment of Instructor Law
As the voices of time lecturers appeal this reality, the government has prepared legislation to improve the treatment of college time lecturers.
The 'Instructor Law' was first introduced in 2010 as a result of the suicide of Dr. Seo Jung-min, who was a time lecturer at Chosun University, to appeal his poor treatment. The instructor law contents include granting teacher status, guaranteeing the term of employment, and guaranteeing wages. Although the bill was first enacted in 2011, universities have pressured a delay, to suspend enforcement, four times in eight years due to the need for more time to prepare for The Instructor Law. In order to prevent further delays, the National Assembly in 2017 requested the Ministry of Education to prepare an amendment within one year. The Ministry of Education, in March 2018, created a lecturer system improvement council. The council dramatically elaborated a revised lecturer law agreement that revised some of the original drafts through a total of 20 meetings over a period of five months. On November 12, 2018, the amendment to the Instructor Law passed the National Assembly Education Committee and will be implemented in earnest in August 2019.
The amendment to the Instructor Law supports the rights of time instructors by revisions and additions to the contents of the original Instructor Law. It mentions the payment of wages during vacation, which was not included in the original Instructor Law. However, there is no specific bill on the payment of wages. In addition, two reappointment opportunities were given to ensure that appointments are made for up to three years. The details of contracts are to be written in a clear and concise manner so that the appointment procedure is clear. Moreover, time lecturers are allowed to teach less than six hours per week at a university. This is to prevent lectures from being given to a small number of lecturers and to prevent many teachers from being dismissed. This is a tremendous advance in rights from the past without this law. Compared with the original Instructor Law and the amendment submitted in the meantime, it can be said that this is legal progress that guarantees equal rights.
In preparation for the revision of the Instructor Law to be enforced in August 2019, the Ministry of Education announced “the Enforcement Ordinance” as a follow-up to the instructor law. The Enforcement Ordinance contains detailed regulations to actually enforce a law. The amendment to the Instructor Law does not define all the circumstances; it just sets out general principles. On the other hand, the Enforcement Ordinance describes the details of how to practice by case. The purpose is to prevent adverse effects of the revision of the lnstructor Law. The Ministry of Education held four meetings on the Enforcement Ordinance of the Instructor Law before January 2019 and coordinated the details. The details specify exceptional circumstances in which the contents of the revised Instructor Law do not apply. The amendment to Article 6, which is a part of the Enforcement Ordinance, contains exceptions to the principle of "teaching a school less than six hours per week" as specified in the amendment. It states that "if the principal deems necessary, he or she may lecture within a period not exceeding nine hours per week." The Enforcement Ordinance has not been completed yet, and it has been continuously modified and added to. On the other hand, there is controversy because the Enforcement Ordinance does not include clear standards concerning wages for time lecturer during vacations.
Inappropriate conduct of universities
Some universities are playing various tricks to reduce the financial burden of hiring time lecturers, even though the instructor law has not been enforced.
As a way of reducing the cost of hiring a lecturer at a university, the first method is to hire someone as an invited professor or an additional professor. ‘Invited professors,’ who are invited professors from outside, and ‘affiliated professors,’ who have other professions, are non-professional teachers, and are less costly than lecturers. As long as the college can freely adjust the salary, time instructors are randomly dismissed and replaced by an invited professor or an affiliated professor. One example is 'Sungkyunkwan University's Long-Term Vision 2020', which states that by 2020, all Sungkyunkwan University faculty professors will be appointed as non-professional teachers. On November 30, 2010, the Sungkyunkwan University Teachers Human Resource Team sent information materials related to the plan of non-professional teachers' systems to deans and the heads of the departments. The information materials stated that the instructor law will be enforced on Aug. 1, 2019, and that it intends to increase the appointment of affiliated professors instead of time lecturers.
Some universities have been dismissing time lecturers in order to reduce costs and have also written tricks to give lectures to full-time professors. The additional allowance that the time lecturer receives when covering more than the original lecture is 40,000 won per hour. On the other hand, full-time professors may receive around 12,000 won per hour, which means that universities can operate their colleges on a much smaller budget. It is also a problem that when time lecturers are dismissed, there are cases in which full-time professors lecture more than 15 credits per semester. Full-time professors should do research and administration as well as lectures. Increasing the number of lectures for professors will reduce the quality of the lectures, and will certainly cause a great loss to the whole school. On October 29th, 2010, the Hanyang University told the time lecturers, "I am grateful for your lecture with all your heart and sincerity," and “From next year, we will give lectures to full-time professors.” This means that the time lecturers who were in charge of the lectures were informed that their contract cannot be renewed. However, Hanyang University officials have denied the fact that the lecturers were not confirmed.
In addition to reducing time lecturers and giving lectures to full-time professors, universities are integrating major and liberal arts classes into single classes. In the case of integrating several subjects into one subject, students will learn only on an introductory level, without in-depth exploration one of each subject. If the school increase the number of classes, no matter how good the speaker or lecturer is, the lesson will lead to a deteriorated mood and loss of concentration. This means that the number of students affects the quality of the lectures. On November 29, 2018, Korea University sent a document entitled 'Discussions on the Implementation of Instructor Law' to each department, which became controversial. According to the document, Korea University plans to reduce the number of courses in 2019 by 20% from the previous year. However, this criterion was put on hold because of the criticism that time lecturers would be dismissed in advance of enforcement of the instructor law. As another example, on February 12, 2019, the lecturers' committee, a joint committee for improvement of the lecturer system and university research education publicity, pointed out that the reduction of class size leads to infringement of students' right to learn. A student who attended the lecturers' committee on the day said, "My friend was angry that he had to postpone his graduation because he missed a class that he had to take before graduation."
Movement of measures
To prevent the continued inappropriate behavior of universities, opinions are emerging that urgent measures are needed. Let's look at the movements, of various people that are demanding the preparation of measures.
Measures for financial support are required together with the Enforcement Ordinance. 53 professors from Hanyang University, called ‘a group of professors at Hanyang University who want to protect universities as the center of the intellect’, said "The problem is money. If the government provides an improvement plan for time lecturers and provides funds to the universities on condition that they maintain 'time lecturer hiring,' the problem will be simply solved.” They also said, "There are 75,000 time lecturers at the present time, and 70 billion won is practically enough of a budget increase for to the instructor law." However, the National Assembly only stipulated 28.8 billion won in the Ministry of Education budget to improve the treatment of time lecturers. When preparing a response to the fact that the university burden will increase by 70 billion, this amount will not be enough to lower the burden of hiring time lecturers for 400 colleges and universities. Financial support measures should be discussed.
In order to prevent the budget created by the National Assembly from being used unintentionally, careful review and periodic audits should be made to ensure that the budget is used appropriately. In the case of college students requesting a review by themselves, Ewha University opened a committee on December 27, 2018 to advise on the 2019 budget. There is a statement which said that the budget should be increased by about 6 billion for maintenance of time lecturers, but it will be increased by only 1.5 billion won. In response to this question, one student asked whether there was any restructuring under the instructor law, but there has been no answer yet. Ewha University’s 51st Central Management Committee visited the office of administrative affairs on January 2, 2019 with doubts about the ridiculous statement that the budget would be reduced by 4.5 billion won without adjusting the number of time lecturers. They asked for the release of plans for hiring and dismissal of time lecturers in 2019, along with the current status of the instructors in 2018. That the Central Steering Committee be open to discussions with the time lecturers on the law was also requested.
Time lecturers' rallies are taking place all over the country. On January 24, 2019, time instructors visited Cheong Wa Dae and urged that measures be taken. 20 lecturers, including a university lecturer network called 'lecturers of rage' and the labor union of Korean non-governmental professors, held a press conference in front of Cheong Wa Dae on that day. They said, "The Ministry of Education and the Cheong Wa Dae are behind us, even though we are blowing the winds of mass dismissal of time instructors." They then urged the government to take measures such as investigating the actual placement of lecturers. In addition, time lecturers will hold large-scale rallies involving students and professors at the end of March to oppose attempts to neutralize instructor laws. This is because the time lecturers’ dismissal is expected to increase in April and May 2019 for the second semester of 2019, when the Instructor Law will be implemented.
Overseas time lecture method
In Western European countries, there are various safety devices that can maintain a minimum standard of living even for people who only work as a time lecturer. For example, in the case of the UK, there is no time lecturer in the Korean sense that the status as a lecturer is not guaranteed and the lecturer has to suffer from job insecurity every six months. The UK time instructor is a term-based staff member working at a university or a related institution. A contract of one year or more is guaranteed, and the status and compensation are decided according to the contract. Of course, UK time lecturers also receive wages at the bottom 30% of all jobs, but they are not subject to relative disadvantage at least compared to regular teachers. The fixed-term instructors are also guaranteed promotion opportunities and pensions, and are able to join teachers' unions.
In the case of the United States, the status of a teacher is not guaranteed for a six-month contract and wages are also very low, which is not different from in Korea. According to James Perley, a professor of biology at Wooster University in Ohio, USA, "The wages of hour classes are less than those of junior high school teachers, and 75% of the time instructors live below the poverty level of the US if they do not have other jobs". In response to the efforts of teachers associations such as the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation ofTeachers (AFT), and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), laws have been enacted in some states to improve the treatment of time lecturers. In California, Assembly Resolution 138 states that time instructors are provided with non-discriminatory remuneration and benefits. It is said that full-time faculty member are responsible for 75% of the lectures in undergraduate course of universities and that the non-professional faculty is responsible for 25% of the lecturers. In addition, California Assembly Law 1807 contains the respect for the opinions of the parties during the renewal of the lecturer's career experience.
The Instructor Law, which has been suspended several times, is almost certain to be enforced in August 2019. Amendments to the Instructor Law have been passed and the enforcement ordinance has been passed, but there are still many disadvantages. Universities are struggling with the loopholes in the law, and the voices of time lecturers and students are also growing. Universities should, in essence, keep in mind that through instructor law, the treatment of time instructors will be improved, the quality of lectures will be enhanced, and eventually they will contribute to the improvement of Korean universities. Furthermore, the government needs to shape the enforcement ordinance as soon as possible and plan financial and other measures. I hope that the revised instructor law will be implemented to reduce the number of time lecturers who are shaking with anxiety and also hope that they will give lectures with pride as time lecturers with improved working conditions.
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