SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite the South Korean government’s efforts to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear energy and initiate a shift towards renewable alternatives, a surprising number of soon-to-be high school graduates have applied to study nuclear engineering at university this year.
According to sources in the education sector on Thursday, the number of final-year high school students applying for early entrance programs to study nuclear engineering has even gone up this year at some universities.
The acceptance rate for this year’s early entrance program at Seoul National University for nuclear engineering was estimated to be below 18 percent, up slightly from last year’s figure.
A similar trend was observed at the department of nuclear engineering at Hanyang University, home to South Korea’s oldest nuclear engineering program, which was established in 1958.
This year, Hangyang University’s admission rate for its early entrance program was even lower than Seoul National University’s.
Other universities with similar programs such as the College of Engineering at Chung-Ang University also reported similar admissions results.
“It’s possible that the widespread speculation that the number of applications for nuclear engineering courses will drop based on the government’s anti-nuclear energy policy might have backfired in the face of the students who banked on that idea,” a professor of nuclear engineering at Hanyang University speculated.
The professor also added that the prediction that the government’s anti-nuclear energy policy will soon end also played a role in this year’s surging number of applicants.
Others, however, saw the government’s hardline stance on nuclear energy as an opportunity, since more nuclear energy experts will be required to help transform the country’s energy policy.
As experts say it will take years for the government to permanently shut down aging nuclear power plants, it’s a reasonable view to hold that for the next decade, there will be job opportunities for nuclear engineers who will help manage, improve and possibly shut down a number of nuclear power plants that are in operation across the country.
In contrast, the applications this year for early entrance to ocean engineering programs dropped notably compared to last year, reflecting the economic slump facing the South Korean shipbuilding industry.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)