Paradigm shift: HUFS finding new momentum for its long-term development

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South Korea – Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) set up a Biomedical Engineering Department early this year and recruited 35 freshmen for the spring semester to increase focus on biomedical engineering as part of its long-term development.

This move is seen as innovative for the university, which has long specialised in teaching foreign languages and regional studies since it was founded in 1954.

“I feel that HUFS should expand into biomedical engineering so that we can find new momentum for development and compete with top universities both at home and abroad,” President Kim In-chul told The Korea Times in a recent interview in Seoul.

He believes that biomedical engineering has great potential not only for his university but also for the nation as it encompasses biology, life and medical sciences, engineering and information technology (IT).

HUFS also revealed a grand plan to establish a medical college. The Korean government usually only allows one university or two to create a medical college once every five or ten years, so it will take a long time to actualise HUFS having a medical college. However, President Kim believes that the operation of the Biomedical Engineering Department will pave the way for HUFS to eventually open a medical college.

HUFS is now considering operating a general hospital in cooperation with some medical institutions or pharmaceutical firms before the creation of a medical college.

HUFS signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Handok, a local pharmaceutical company, for biomedical engineering research and cultivating manpower in June. The university has also formed a partnership with the Medical Device R&D Center of the Seoul National University Bundang Hospital to conduct joint research and develop medical devices together.

HUFS expects the Biomedical Engineering Department to make inroads into medical tourism that combines treatment and convalescence in partnership with general hospitals or medical schools in South Korea.

While expanding into new areas to take a big leap toward becoming one of the world’s finest universities, HUFS is determined to maintain the strength of its foreign language majors – its inherent value. The results of the latest QS Asian University Rankings whereby HUFS soared 26 notches to the 77th position support the fact that HUFS is exploring a wide range of possibilities for its creative innovation.