South Korea Now Open For Foreign Students
South Korea has adopted a new educational program. They plan to increase the number of their foreign students through the year 2010. By that time, the number of scholarships for foreign students in Korea will be doubled, and the number of foreign students will reach 100,000, according to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology estimate.
Another big step is being taken to realize this project: universities will receive contributions of about $2 million to open only English-language classes and to separate them from Korean-language ones. It will allow foreigners to take classes in South Korean universities without being obliged to learn their language. This will be very advantageous for foreign students, since English is widely spoken throughout the world and the biggest obstacle for studying abroad is the native language.
As The Korea Times reports, foreign students will be offered more dormitories and the process of obtaining visas will be eased. Also, foreign students will have governmental assistance when trying to find jobs in South Korea.
Before, the educational system in South Korea, from international aspect, was one-sided: about 220,000 Korean students studied abroad, but very few were accepted in return. Among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea has the lowest proportion of foreign student enrollment at universities: less than 1 percent.
It’s in South Korea’s interests to accept more foreign students. Ministry official Shin Kang-Tak said to The Korea Times:
Attracting overseas students has become important not only for education but also the economy and diplomacy. If the number of foreign students increases to 100,000, we can earn 160 billion won. Foreigners graduating from Korean universities will also serve as a driving force in this country, which is suffering from a low birth rate.
According to Chronicle News, President Bush, who was visiting Seoul at the beginning of August, said that 5,000 Korean students will be allowed to stay in United States for 18 months to study English and work as interns. Maybe this move by US was taken as a response to Korean reforms, but anyway, for Korean students it’s a real chance. Nowadays, about 30 percent of Korean students abroad are studying in United States, and Bush’s proposal will greatly improve their stay in the US.
Anyway, in my opinion, it’s always progressive to open an educational system to other countries. But to do it successfully, governments need not only institutional, but also educational content reforms. Only qualified educational systems will attract students from abroad, South Korea is taking every step to ensure they are one of these successes.