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“We educate our students to be world-leading financial experts.”

Ajou University was selected as a world-class research-centered university (WCU) for the establishment of the Financial Engineering Department.

Jaeyoung Sung, Principal Investigator of the WCU project

“Ajou University was the only university selected in the financial engineering area. As such, it is Korea’s foremost educational and research institution in financial engineering.”

The WCU program, initiated by the government, aims to provide full financial support for colleges which have potentials to advance themselves to levels of world-class research-oriented universities in academic areas which are promising to be new sources of economic growth for the nation in the near future. Financial engineering is considered to be one of those areas, and Ajou University was the only university selected in the financial engineering area. This new academic area is an interdisciplinary study of finance, economics and mathematics, and has relatively recently emerged as an important discipline for the financial industry which is expected to be a major driving force to improve the competitiveness and employment opportunities of the national economy.

Professor Jaeyoung Sung, who is supervising the WCU financial engineering project, said, “We feel a great sense of responsibility. We’ll contribute to playing a major role in the fight against the global financial crisis, measuring up to our reputation as the nation’s representative educational and research institution.” He continued, “Despite the many ordeals, our financial engineering team has benefited from the continuous support of many professors and researchers, such as Professor Dokgo Yoon and University President Jaehwan Ahn. He summed up his conviction by saying, “Their passion and energy will make the WCU project successful. This is a critical foothold that will allow Ajou University to take off and become a world-class university in general.”

“First is quality, second is quality, and even third is quality”

Ajou University, which established the Financial Engineering Department and admitted 30 Master’s and PhD students for the first semester of 2010, is expected to receive a research budget of 7 billion won over the next five years. Thanks to the grant, Ajou University put together a great team of domestic and foreign scholars in finance, economics and mathematics for the WCU project, headed by Professor Sung, a world-renowned researcher in financial economics, who was scouted by Ajou University in 2008 when he worked for the University of Illinois in the US. The other domestic members are Professor Hyeng Keun Koo, a distinguished scholar in mathematical finance; Professor Hyeongohk Bae, another famous scholar in the area of partial differential equations; and Professor Gyucheol Shim, a relatively young and promising scholar in the area of financial engineering. As for the foreign scholars, Professor Alain Bensoussan, from the University of Texas and also a chaired professor of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is participating in the project. In addition, Professor Abel Cadenillas from the University of Alberta, in Canada, and Professor Zengjing Chen and other world-leading scholars in financial engineering have joined the project. Professor Sung said, “A university supported by a WCU grant must demonstrate academic leadership derived from quality instead of quantity.” He introduced the participating scholars by saying, “Ajou University’s Financial Engineering Team is comprised only of scholars whose research in the past has been superb or those with excellent potential for the future.”

“Open door policy for all the students in the nation”

Ajou University’s Financial Engineering Department will focus on recruiting students of significant potential and educating them to be global experts in the area. Student recruiting committee members at Ajou University often travel to hold information sessions for prospective students nationwide to participate in the graduate school programs. The Department is also actively inviting world-renowned professors for talks or lectures. Their continuous effort to invite excellent professors and students will help enhance the educational quality. On the other hand, Ajou University is working hard to attract funds from private sectors, in order to make the Department eventually self-sustainable at a world-class level without relying too much on the governmental support.

“The WCU grant is a resource not only for Ajou University but the financial engineering community in Korea”

Ajou University is aspiring to be the top in the nation in interdisciplinary studies and technological development, such as financial engineering, and software and information technology. Ajou University’s Financial Engineering Team recently hosted three conferences on financial mathematics, along with POSTECH and KAIST. Last year, it organized and managed the international academic conference jointly hosted by the Korea Institute for Advanced Study and Tokyo University. Professor Sung said, “Our Financial Engineering Team already has the best research capability in Korea. Ajou University was selected for the WCU project at a time when it was striving to become the best university in financial engineering in Asia. With this selection serving as the turning point, we are now dreaming on a grander scale and have started making effort to become a world-class university in financial engineering. We view the WCU grant as a resource for the entire financial engineering community in Korea.” Professor Sung concluded, “We hope that Ajou University’s Financial Engineering Team will take a lead in overcoming world-wide financial crises.”

Source: DYNAMIC KOREA 2009.06

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