KAIST and the Information and Communications University, a state-run institution, decided to merge as they signed a memorandum of understanding for unification at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul on May 23.
The MOU signing ceremony was attended by representatives of the two universities and related high-ranking government officials from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Under the agreement, the two universities will form a joint committee to complete the merger process by the end of this year. According to the MOU, ICU will become the "IT Convergence Campus" (ICC) which will include KAIST"s IT related departments and research institutes. The projected ICC will be headed by a KAIST vice president, KAIST authorities said.
With the merger, the number of KAIST students in the IT area will increase to 2,850 from 1,951, while the number of IT-related faculty members will rise to 157 from 99.
ICU was established in 1997 by the Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, and some major Korean IT companies. Located in Daedeok Science Town in Daejeon where KAIST is also situated, ICU started as a graduate school and added the undergraduate course in 2002. It currently has a total enrollment of 1,121 students -- 481undergraduate students, 324 graduate students and 316 doctorate students.
KAIST said that it will treat ICU professors and staff equally after the merger. This year, the two universities will separately conduct freshmen recruitment procedures for 2009, but will then unify recruitment.
The unification of the two institutions is expected to give KAIST the competitive edge through a larger faculty, student body, and expanded facilities.
The agreement put an end to extended negotiations for merger which started in July 2006. The talk of merging the two universities surfaced when the Board of Audit and Inspection concluded that the government"s direct financial support for ICU was unlawful as ICU was established as a private school. When ICU was established in 1997, the Ministry of Information and Communication provided 200 billion won as the basic endowment and has continually provided 10 billion won in operating funds each year.
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