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South Korea: Focus on foreign student programmes

As a result of a nation-wide assessment of international student programmes at 347 schools in South Korea (201 universities and 146 vocational education colleges), the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has named 36 universities, which will face sanctions for poor management of international students. Specifically, 17 institutions will face restrictions for one year in terms of new visas issued to foreign students; 12 will be subject to additional oversight with regard to management of their international student programmes; and 7 will be ordered to correct some practices immediately.

According to The Korea Herald, this move targets increases in foreign student enrolment for the purposes of financial benefit, as well as lax management, practices which are thought to have facilitated a growth in illegal immigrant student numbers in South Korea. Reportedly, about 70% of illegal immigrant students are from China, followed by Vietnam and Mongolia. Some major universities in Seoul are among the 17 universities to face visa issuance restrictions, including Hansung University, Soongsil University and Sungshin Women’s University. On the other end of the spectrum are 10 schools which were named as good examples in international student management, including Hanyang University, Yonsei University, Sogang University, Seoul National University and Korea University, among others.

The new evaluation effort reflects Korea’s strong commitment to the highest standards for managing both national and foreign student populations. Several months ago, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology undertook another evaluation exercise aimed at weeding out sub-standard higher education institutions, in a move to reprioritise the allocation of state funding and restructure its higher education system for maximum effect (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, September 2011). In addition, the Korean government has just initiated an inter-ministerial effort to attract more foreign education institutions to Korea’s free economic zones. Subject to the amendment of related regulations, foreign schools will be authorised to send their earnings back home and use their home countries’ accounting standards. The expansion of government subsidies to foreign institutions is also envisioned as part of this move to make Korea more attractive for international education investments.

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology – on foreign educational institutions The Korea Herald – on blacklisted universities in South Korea