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Samsung’s new hiring method stirs controversy

Jan. 26, 2014 - 19:51 By Yoon Min-sik
Samsung Group’s new recruitment program has come under fire as it allegedly puts students from a few favored universities and particular regions at an advantage.

According to reports, Samsung, one of the most coveted workplaces in South Korea, has recently notified about 200 universities the number of students they can each recommend as prospective applicants for the company’s recruitment process.

Samsung has asked the universities to select a total of 5,000 students, but the number differs at each school, reports said.

Students, if recommended by their schools, will be exempted from the screening process and will be given a chance to take the company’s specialized entrance exam, the Samsung Aptitude Test, right away.

Sungkyunkwan University, which is owned and operated by Samsung, was allocated the most recommendations with 115, followed by Seoul National University and Hanyang University, each with 110.

The system is being criticized by those who fear it would create a new university ranking system, with favored schools that are allowed the most recommendations to Samsung at the top.

Seoul National University law professor Cho Kuk warned via Facebook about the dangers of the new Samsung-based-rank. He predicted that universities will lobby to recommend more students to the company, which will solidify Samsung’s influence over schools and the general public.

“Samsung has as good as announced that it is above universities. Such arrogance is unprecedented,” Cho said.

Last year, its flagship company was surveyed as the most preferred workplace in South Korea for the 10th straight year.

Educational sources said that all-women schools were given too few slots. Ewha Womans University can only recommend 30 students, which is small compared with other universities of similar stature.

There were also suspicions of regional discrimination, with universities in the Jeolla provinces allowed far fewer recommendations than those in the Gyeongsang provinces.

Samsung denied the accusation of favoritism, and said the number of recommendations for each university was assigned strictly in accordance with how many of the schools’ graduates were hired by Samsung last year.

It added that 70 to 80 percent of the company’s new hires majored in engineering or natural science, and said that universities that have strong programs in the cited fields were asked to recommend more students.

Samsung also claimed that the new hiring process intended to reduce social costs related to its entrance exam.

Education sources voiced concerns that the new hiring system will prompt more serious competition among students who want to get a recommendation from each university.

“There are close to 1,000 students (at each university) who are preparing for the SSAT, and we have to choose just a few dozen students to recommend,” said an official from a Seoul-based university. “Samsung is just dumping the workload of (selecting qualified) students to universities.”

By Yoon Min-sik (