South Korea: International Student Numbers Soar by 21%

South Korea Asia International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Nov 09, 2023

South Korea's flag

The foreign resident population in South Korea has reached a record level of nearly 2.26 million, with the number of international students increasing by 21 percent annually, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety has said.

The ministry's report states that international student numbers and the number of overseas Koreans have increased by 0.9 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively, reports.

Data indicate that a total of 1.75 million people are foreign nationals with Korean citizenship, which increased in all 17 cities and provinces of the country. At the same time, the number of naturalized Koreans totalled 223,825.

According to the statistics website Statista, except for 2020 and 2021, South Korean universities have recorded a steady increase in international student enrollment over recent years.

Last year, over 167,000 international students attended higher education institutions in South Korea, a nearly ten percent increase from the previous year.

Over the years, the number of international students in South Korea stood at:

  • 2017 - 124,000 students
  • 2018 - 142,000 students
  • 2019 - 160,000 students
  • 2020 - 153,000 students
  • 2021 - 152,000 students
  • 2022 - 167,000 students

As of June this year, the total number of international students in South Korea is 207,126, an annual increase of 17.6 percent.

Earlier this year, South Korea’s Ministry of Education (MoE) announced its plan to attract 300,000 international students by 2027 in a bid to address the sharp decrease in the school-age population.

The government’s plan, known as the Study Korea 300K Project, aims, among other things, to make South Korea one of the world’s ten most popular study destinations for international students by 2027.

Under the plan, the process of obtaining permanent residency for graduates in STEM fields is expected to be accelerated. It also includes easing the current requirements for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) and providing financial assistance to 2,700 international science and engineering students and 6,000 non-science students through the Global Korea Scholarship Programme.

“As the plan is considering measures to support settlement it seems to be more helpful to attract international students,” the chief of the Korean Council for University Education (KCUE) Research Institute of Higher Education, Baek Jeong-ha, told University World News.

Another goal is to make the international student population more diverse by welcoming more students from India, Pakistan, or the United States, who would particularly enroll in STEM programs.

The target of having 300,000 international students in the country by 2027 means a 30 percent increase in five years.

© Daniel Bernard | Unsplash

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