South Korea universities rushing to set up departments in system chips

Yonsei and Korea Universities along with other schools here are rushing to open new departments in cooperation with Samsung Electronics or SK hynix to groom future engineers in the field of system semiconductors.

The move comes amid a serious unemployment crisis in tandem with a feared brain drain in the industry.

It is also in line with the government’s plan to nurture 3,400 professional personnel in the sector through four-year undergraduate programs by the end of 2030, amid a growing need for chipmakers to expand their presence in the non-memory chip market.

“A system chip engineering department will be created at Yonsei University and Korea University starting with the class of 2021,” said an official from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Yonsei University has partnered with Samsung Electronics, while Korea University has joined hands with SK hynix.

Seoul National University (SNU) and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology are also discussing opening their own departments, according to industry sources.

The new departments are drawing attention amid a job crisis as their graduates will have higher chances of being employed by chipmakers after graduation.

Fifty students who major in system chips at Yonsei University will be hired by Samsung Electronics, while 30 who study at Korea University will be recruited by SK hynix.

The chipmakers will also award scholarships to students of the new departments.

Universities will receive financial support from chipmakers that will cover the operating expenses for the departments.

Sungkyunkwan University has already operated a similar course in cooperation with Samsung Electronics since 2006, enjoying great popularity among students and parents. During the 2019 rolling admission at the university, 1,387 students applied to the department that will select just 55 students.

The trade ministry said the launch of four-year degree programs specializing in system chips can be expanded to other universities once agreements are reached between universities and chipmakers.

SNU has been reviewing plans for teaming up with chipmakers and setting up a department, but this has yet to be finalized due to school regulations.

“It will take some time before the launch of the new department as its method of operation collides with school regulations,” an official from SNU said.

Under university regulations, a department that guarantees employment cannot be created. To launch the new department, the university needs to change these.

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