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International Review of Education

, Volume 65, Issue 6, pp 975–990 | Cite as

The Academic Credit Bank System in the Republic of Korea: An effective medium for lifelong learning in higher education?

  • Hyewon Park
  • Jinhee Choi
  • JungHwan KimEmail author
  • Jihee Hwang
Original Paper
  • 29 Downloads

Abstract

Drawing on critical theory for adult education, the authors of this article examine the Academic Credit Bank System (ACBS), an open educational system operating in the Republic of Korea since 1998. It was designed to provide both traditional-age and mature students with opportunities to earn academic qualifications, including Bachelor’s degrees, at low cost and in collaboration with the traditional system. In a literature review, the authors analyse the system with reference to the underlying ideology (i.e., credentialism, an emphasis on formal credentials) and hegemonic (dominant) characteristics (i.e., the foci of formal education and the educational norms created by the government-centred administrative system) in which ACBS operates, particularly in the context of lifelong learning. The authors investigate why an ACBS degree is still not considered to be equivalent to a traditional degree in the job market. Their data are drawn from the domestic and international literature relating to ACBS, including policy reports which tend to offer only descriptions of ACBS without subjecting the educational system itself to even small-scale analysis. The authors found that ACBS is limited primarily with regard to social recognition and that this systemic limitation is an outcome of Korea’s academic credentialism. In particular, they argue that a non-formal learning domain cannot be successful unless the credentials it produces are perceived as comparable to those from the dominant (i.e., traditional) system of higher education. Overall, this study advances the education field’s understanding of ACBS by using a critical lens to unveil tensions in practice and identify problems at the ground level, which cannot be identified merely through statistical evaluation. The authors conclude this article with a suggestion of in-depth, qualitative examinations and critical reflection on ACBS.

Keywords

Academic Credit Bank System Lifelong learning in the Republic of Korea Critical theory Continuing higher education 

Résumé

L’Academic Credit Bank System en République de Corée : un moyen efficace d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie dans l’enseignement supérieur ? – En s’inspirant de la théorie critique pour l’éducation des adultes, les auteurs de cet article se penchent sur l’Academic Credit Bank System (ACBS) un système d’éducation ouvert en service depuis 1998 en République de Corée. S’adressant à des étudiants d’âge classique et à des étudiants plus âgés, il a été conçu pour leur permettre d’obtenir des qualifications académiques, y compris des bachelors, à faible coût et en collaboration avec le système traditionnel. Les auteurs procèdent à une analyse documentaire du système concernant l’idéologie sous-jacente (p. ex. la « diplômanie », l’importance accrue accordée aux diplômes) et les caractéristiques prédominantes (p. ex. la focalisation sur l’éducation formelle et les normes éducatives créées par le système administratif centré sur le gouvernement) dans les limites desquelles l’ACBS opère, notamment dans le contexte de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie. Les auteurs enquêtent sur la raison pour laquelle le marché du travail ne considère toujours pas qu’un diplôme de l’ACBS a la même valeur qu’un diplôme traditionnel. Ils s’appuient sur des données extraites de documents nationaux et internationaux relatifs à l’ACBS, entre autres des rapports politiques qui se bornent généralement à ne fournir que des descriptions de l’ACBS sans soumettre le système de l’éducation lui-même à une quelconque analyse, même à petite échelle. Les auteurs se sont aperçus que les limites de l’ACBS touchent avant tout la reconnaissance sociale et que cette entrave systémique est un résultat de la diplômanie académique en Corée. Ils affirment en particulier que l’apprentissage non formel ne peut pas être couronné de succès à moins de considérer que les qualifications qu’il produit sont comparables à celles du système d’enseignement supérieur dominant (c’est-à-dire traditionnel). Globalement, cette étude facilite la compréhension par le domaine de l’éducation de l’ACBS (système de crédits académiques) en l’examinant à travers un prisme critique qui révèle les tensions dans la pratique et permet d’identifier les problèmes à la base, qu’une simple évaluation statistique ne suffit pas à déterminer. Les auteurs concluent cet article en suggérant d’examiner en profondeur la qualité de l’ACBS et de le soumettre à une réflexion critique.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article was developed from a paper presented at the Adult Education Research Conference on 6 June 2014 at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, PA, USA.

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Copyright information

© UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Educational Research, Yonsei UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  3. 3.The University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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