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South Korea Hits 2015 Goal, 200,000 Int'l Students

clock iconCreated At:14 May, 2023
write iconCreated By:Allaa Ashraf

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Recently released data by the Korean Educational Development Institute reveals that South Korea achieved its goal of hosting 200,000 foreign students by 2023. The country had set this target in 2015, and the 205,167 international students enrolled by March 2023 surpassed it. The number of foreign students increased by almost 10% from 2021, with 166,892 students studying in Korean institutions in April 2022. 

This rebound was significant since the borders were closed during the COVID pandemic. The surge in numbers was attributed to Korea's robust international education sector, which rapidly bounced back and surpassed pre-pandemic figures. 

As a result, the Ministry of Education announced the launch of a new international student support division that aims to ease visa restrictions and partner with universities to create new programmes for foreign students. 

The surge in Vietnamese students was mainly due to Korean investment in Vietnam, with some major corporations making bases in the country and universities in Korea collaborating with universities in Vietnam. 

However, experts warn that the growth of the Vietnamese student market raises concerns about illegal immigration and calls for South Korea to diversify its recruitment strategies.

A team leader from the State University of New York’s Korea Campus, Kyuseok Kim, explained that these countries are primarily responsible for the increase in certificate mobility among language programme students. 

KEDI's data encompasses international students in higher education institutions, both graduate and undergraduate, non-degree programmes, and language courses. 

Hanyang University was the most successful in attracting international students, with 6,999 overseas students attending in 2022. Kyung Hee University followed closely with 6,912 international students, Sungkyunkwan University with 6,676, Yonsei University with 5,926, and Korea University with 4,739. Seoul National University, the top-ranked university in Korea, was missing from the top five, but all five institutions are located in Seoul.

Out of the top ten universities with the most international students, only one is located outside of Seoul: Gacheon University in Seognam, which hosted 3,057 international students in 2022. Kim noted that this underscores the necessity for more partnerships and MoUs for universities outside the capital, a trend already underway. Nonetheless, the rapid growth in numbers is encouraging.

"Over the past two decades, there has been a consistent rise in the enrollment of international students in South Korean HEIs," Kim stated.

"The number had grown considerably since 2003, when only 12,314 students were enrolled. The impressive expansion is attributed to the increased understanding of the necessity of globalising higher education, which has, in turn, captured the attention of Korean HEIs."


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