SUWON, Nov. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – Korea’s low birthrate, which began dropping in the 1970s, is gradually leading to a decline in the number of college students. The number of new college admissions declined from 549,000 in 2014 to 529,000 in 2015 and 516,000 in 2016.
As a countermeasure to Korea’s changing demographics, schools are turning to international students, offering more benefits to foreigners to make up for their losses.
Unlike for domestic students, student intake is not fixed for foreigners. Hence, the more overseas students a school can gather, the better the situation for the school from a managerial standpoint.
Gachon University currently offers an exemption on admission fees for foreigners, in addition to a 40 percent reduction on tuition per semester enrolled. It also provides a 50,000-won ($43) subsidy for campus housing.
Ajou University, on the other hand, operates a scholarship policy that provides up to 100 percent grants for tuition depending on the student’s Korean language proficiency.
Foreigners also have priority over dormitory assignment, while students enrolled at its Graduate School of International Studies are given the chance to visit Korean companies and participate in various conferences.
Dankook University offers 30 percent to 100 percent exemption on tuition and housing expenses, based on the student’s GPA. Foreigners that fail to be assigned campus housing, due to lack of rooms, are offered 80 percent of dormitory expenses as a livelihood support allowance.
The University of Suwon has even established a college specific for foreigners.
It opened in March a new International College that houses a Department of Performance and Entertainment Studies, taking advantage of the growing overseas interest in K-pop and Korean celebrities. Eighty students from China are expected to be admitted for the 2017 academic year.
“We’re in the early stages, so new admissions are limited to Chinese students for now,” said a school official. “But we’ll be expanding the program in the near future to cover students from Southeast Asia, as well as diversifying the school’s majors.”
According to the Ministry of Education, there were 104,000 international students enrolled at local universities as of April 2016, a near tenfold increase from 16,000 in 2004.
By Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)