Korea University: Korea University’s diversity status and related developments outlined in the Korea University Diversity Report 2021

Launched in 2019 as a policy advisory body which feeds into the university president’s (current president Chung Jin Taek) decision-making, the first of its kind among private universities in Korea, the KU Diversity Council is working toward increasing the diversity of members of the university, further developing a school culture that respects diversity on campus, and nurturing talents who are comfortable with diversity. The council offers educational and cultural programs and disseminates research in order to promulgate the lessons learned from its diversity advocacy activities on campus and beyond.

The KU Diversity Council publishes an annual diversity report each year. In March, the council released the Korea University Diversity Report 2021, which outlines its activities over the past three years and includes survey results on the diversity status of the university in that time period. Although many global corporations publish diversity reports these days, it is hard to find a company, public organization, or university in Korea which does the same. However, the KU Diversity Report 2021 makes an important contribution as it provides the results of a biennial longitudinal study on diversity.

Upon its inception in 2019, the council launched its first diversity survey of the university’s various departments and members in order to gain a picture of the diversity status of the university. It announced the results both within the university and beyond, which were based on diversity indices (KUDI-I & II) developed by the council to assess the diversity of the university’s members and the overall diversity of the university itself. The second diversity survey conducted in 2021 provided invaluable, unprecedented data, of the type that is difficult to find globally, showing how the university has changed in regards to diversity over the last two years.

In addition to the diversity survey results, the report reflects on the initiatives the council has taken in its first three years in terms of its education, research, and cultural programs. It describes the council’s activities, including undergraduate curricular and extracurricular diversity education programs, its diversity research competitions and presentations for graduate students, its publications such as the monthly magazine Diversitas, the book it published entitled Harmonious Diversity, and its video productions on diversity. The 2021 report also explains what kinds of diversity policy proposals have been presented by the council to the president, with the aim of enhancing and protecting diversity across the university, and how they have been implemented.

The 2021 Korea University diversity survey is the second such survey, the first being in 2019. The survey is a longitudinal one, conducted biennially according to the same design in each iteration. Data on all university members provided by the school are as of June 2021, and the KUDI-I measure, an index indicating the level of ecological diversity (in terms of human composition) of each member group, is extracted from this data. The ‘Korea University Diversity Awareness Survey’ of all members was completed via online questionnaires. The 2019 survey was conducted in September. In 2021, however, given the time needed for analysis, the survey was conducted in June, and future surveys will be conducted in the first half of the year. The KUDI-II measure, an index evaluating the university’s diversity by member group, was also extracted from this survey.

■In relation to the ecological diversity index, KUDI-I, which measures the diversity of all KU members including faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students, the indices for undergraduate students and staff were similar to 2019. In contrast, those for faculty and graduate students rose. The index for faculty reflected an increase in the number of female faculty members, particularly at the KU Seoul campus, and the index for graduate students showed that forms of diversity, including nationality, improved due to an increase in population parameters.

■The university diversity index (KUDI-II) of undergraduate students was the highest, followed by those of graduate students, faculty, and staff.
♠Among diversity factors, the levels of equity and inclusion rose among faculty, but their score for openness remained low. It is noteworthy that while the diversity of the human composition of faculty increased, KU members were skeptical of the university’s commitment to diverse recruitment and to the exchange of faculty with other institutions.
♠Staff gave lower scores to the university’s commitment to diversity than other members of the university, and more of them asked for enhanced equity on the Seoul campus than on the Sejong campus.
♠Undergraduate students assessed the commitment to diversity to be higher than in 2019, particularly on the Seoul campus.
♠Graduate students’ ratings in this respect also increased compared with 2019, without a significant difference between Seoul and Sejong campuses.

■The perception of diversity education and of research environment experience hugely improved across all member groups compared with 2019. This resulted from the educational and cultural programs which have been launched to promote diversity values since 2020, and the research which has been undertaken in this respect.
♠Undergraduate students’ perceptions showed a considerable improvement in this category on the Seoul campus, where the students benefited enormously from related curricular and extracurricular programs.
♠The evaluation of diversity education and research environment experience was not more favorable among university staff than among other groups because there were not many programs made available to them with the aim of promoting diversity.
♠This shows a need for distinct diversity education programs for staff and graduate students that can meet their differing needs.

■In general, diversity education, research in this field, and organizational culture activities seemed to contribute to the growing acceptance of diversity of university members.
♠More faculty members agreed with the item “I enjoy teaching students from various backgrounds” compared with 2019, indicating that the priority on emotional rewards is more central than before.
♠Staffs’ level of acceptance of diversity tended to be lower, while the related cognitive and emotional factors among them increased slightly in importance compared to 2019.
♠Among undergraduate students, there was a significant improvement in their perception of diversity, especially in terms of their emotions and behavior. Positive changes appeared, particularly among students on the Seoul campus.

■The level of satisfaction with school life was similar to 2019 among faculty, and staff displayed the lowest level of satisfaction. That of undergraduates grew higher only on the Seoul campus. The satisfaction level of graduate students was similar to 2019, while those studying on the Seoul campus assessed their school life to be relatively positive.
♠The report found that the assessment of university diversity served as a leading indicator of an increase in school life satisfaction levels among all member groups. Among both graduate and undergraduate students, the level of acceptance of diversity also affected their level of satisfaction with school life.