UAC Markets ‘Urban Ecology’ Translated as ‘Urban Planning’ in Korean, Creating Confusion


UAC Administrations and Admissions officers pose with officials of Songdo High School after MOU Signing Ceremony. (Courtesy of UAC)

By Mitch Shin, News Writer


The Admissions Office and Public Relations and Marketing Office of the University of Utah Asia Campus have incorrectly translated the Bachelor of Science “Urban Ecology” as “Urban Planning” in Korean to parents and students. The UAC might have translated this differently to encourage more students to enter the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning, according to a chain of emails with the Chair of the Department and Chief Administrative Officer at UAC.

Screenshot of interpretation of Urban Ecology and Urban Planning in Korean.

Three of the seven students in the CMP in the Spring 2019 semester have decided to drop out of school or transfer to another department due to their misunderstanding about the bachelor’s of Urban Ecology, according to interviews with students who do not wish to be identified. Also, more than two students who entered the CMP in the Spring 2018 semester either dropped out of school or transferred to other departments due to misleading information in Korean about Urban Ecology from the admissions office. There were thirteen full-time students in the CMP in the Spring 2019 semester.

Randall McCrillis, Dean of Students, stated to The Chronicle in May that the main reason for closing the Department of Social Work in the Fall 2017 semester was that the educational programs provided did not match the employment ranks in South Korea. After UAC decided to close the Department of Social Work, they opened the CMP, where UAC has been promoting the program “Urban Ecology,” translated as “Urban Planning” in Korean.

Ava Choi, a Domestic Enrollment Counselor at UAC, introducing UAC in the admissions information session. (Courtesy of Uhakplanner)

Ava Choi, Domestic Admissions Counselor, misrepresented Urban Ecology in Korean at the UAC admission information session held on October 18, 2017, in COEX, Seoul. The Chronicle confirmed that she had promoted Urban Ecology as Urban Planning in Korean in the official admissions information sessions. The Chronicle asked McCrillis about Choi’s statement, and he declined to comment.

Todd Kent, Chief Administrator and Dean of Faculty at UAC, said it is not a big problem as long as UAC is treated as an American university where everyone solely uses English on campus. “Students cannot apply for Urban Planning on our website and there is no word in Korean to represent Urban Ecology,” said Kent, explaining why UAC used different terminology in Korean. “There were no good translations in Korean for Urban Ecology, and we couldn’t come up with the term that means Urban Ecology in Korean,” Kent said, arguing that UAC has no intentions of misleading students.

Korean is a character-based language when written out ⁠— “도시계획” is what UAC has been translating Urban Ecology as. In Korean, this means “Urban Planning,” not “Urban Ecology.” There isn’t a word that indicates Urban Ecology in Korean.

Stacy Harwood, head of the CMP at the Salt Lake City campus, knew that UAC had been promoting “Urban Ecology” as “Urban Planning” in Korean, according to a chain of emails with The Chronicle. Harwood said she does not speak Korean so she cannot comment on how Urban Ecology is translated. She did not wish to answer The Chronicle‘s questions on whether UAC intentionally promoted Urban Ecology as Urban Planning in Korean to recruit more students, but said that she became the Chair of the CMP Department last year and appointed the UAC Executive Committee recently, and she will spend more time getting to know the UAC campus. Given the fact that UAC started promoting the mistranslation before the Fall 2017 semester, she was not the one who decided to translate Urban Ecology incorrectly in Korean.

The main reason UAC opened the CMP is because it’s a program of science and engineering, and there is a tendency for the Korean government to actively support departments related to the major industries leading the economy in the country. In the case of the U.S. and Korea, there are relatively more jobs available for students in the science and engineering field, and the United States encourages universities to open more science and engineering departments for that reason. Since its opening, Urban Ecology has been marketed as Urban Planning in the Korean language, but UAC has correctly called it Urban Ecology in English. Two years have passed since this department was established, but the number of students in the department has never exceeded 25. There is only one faculty member per semester. Besides, UAC established a Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering in Spring 2019, which seems quite similar to the CMP.

Posters posted in Naver Blog of UAC by UAC PR Marketing office to promote the admissions information session with undergraduate programs in Korean in March and April 2019. (Courtesy of UAC)

Korean universities don’t offer the same curriculum of Urban Ecology as the CMP Department at the University of Utah offers. Because they are misinformed about the name of the bachelor’s program, Korean students who read Urban Planning are led to believe the curriculum is similar to the Urban Planning curriculum that other Korean institutions offer, especially because Korean universities have opened their own CMP Departments with Urban Planning programs.

UAC opened in September 2014 and is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. UAC is one of four universities in the Incheon Global Campus, and provides students with an educational system that they can’t experience through Korean institutions. The schools included are the State University of New York Korea, George Mason University Korea and Ghent University Global Campus. The Fashion Institute Technology Korea is also in place, but it is an affiliate of the State University of New York Korea. 

UAC is the only school in the Incheon Global Campus that does not have a website in Korean. However, every school in IGC, including UAC, has communicated with Korean parents and students by posting their stories on their blogs using the Korean language. Additionally, other schools created a Korean format for their websites for students and parents to check their curriculum and programs without any doubts about the content of the curriculum and programs.

UAC has recently announced its admission information session event, which will be held in September.


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