All research programs and project teams under the second-phase Brain Korea 21 project will undergo annual evaluation of stricter standards, resulting in a reduction of subsidy for the least performing 1~3 programs and a cancellation of programs that mark the lowest evaluation scores starting 2009. The curtailed budget will be re-directed to programs that mark top evaluation results.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced the tightened evaluation scheme on July 29, as a means of a stronger performance management for the seven-year national research promotion project involving government support of 2.3 trillion Korean won.
The BK21-NURI Project Management Committee, established under the Korea Research Foundation, will assess the programs and teams with revised evaluation indices that place more weight on qualitative performance. Qualitative assessment will account for approximately 70 percent of the evaluation, up from the current 60 percent.
In order to ensure enhanced professionalism and accuracy in evaluation, the Committee will add 100 more members to its composition, largely by inviting experts from industries, research institutes and foreign universities, bringing the total number of members up to around 700. The “Spot Check” system will also make a random sampling of 10 percent of all programs and projects, up from the current 5 percent.
At the same time, the ministry has introduced more accurate standards for its approval of participation in international academic conferences. In order to be counted in as a BK21 performance outcome, research teams must now attend an academic conference organized by a renowned foreign academic society(joint organization with Korean societies allowed) that involve 4 or more countries including Korea. At least 50 papers must be presented at such a conference, of which more than half should be provided by foreign scholars.
New limitations have also been placed on the availability of financial support for attendance in international conferences. The ministry will offer aid for maximum 3 students who present self-written papers at an international conference, or who participate as designated panel discussants. For professors, the ministry will cover expenses only in the case that s/he serves as an academic advisor to a group of students attending an overseas conference. The regulations are to take effect on September 1, 2008.
Alongside, in an effort to expand autonomy and effectiveness in BK21 project operation, the ministry intends to allow part-time professors to take part in BK21, on the provision that they possess a status equivalent to full-time faculty members and are currently functioning as academic advisors to master's/doctoral students.
Starting 2009, the ministry will also abolish its current regulation imposed on BK21 project teams to secure a matching fund from universities accounting for minimum 5 percent of government subsidy. In cases where scholars participating in the newly launched World Class University project instruct and advise BK21 students on a continuous basis, the ministry will also grant them the title of a BK21 professor.
A public hearing will be held on August 11 to gather opinions from universities with regard to the ministry's plans, to be reflected in a revised set of BK21 Management & Operation Regulations which will take effect in the second academic semester of 2008 at earliest.