Why study in South Korea?
South Korea is a constitutional democracy state with a very high standard of living. As Asia’s fourth largest economy it is one of the world’s leading international financial centres.
- As one of the Asian tigers it has enjoyed rapid economic growth and avoided the worst effects of the recession of the post-2008 period. Unemployment is low and public services such as transport are cutting edge. The proportion on non-Koreans in the population is increasing rapidly. English is widely taught and spoken.
- There are 43 national and almost 180 private universities . Seoul National University (31st) is the highest ranking South Korean university in the 2014–15 QS World University Rankings.
- Also in the top 200 are the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) (51st), followed by the Pohang University of Science and Technology (86th), Yonsei University (106th), Korea University (116th), and Sungkyunkwan University (140th).
- Undergraduate programmes normally last four years (six years for medicine and dentistry).
- In 2010 there were 83,842 foreign students from 171 countries studying in South Korea.
- Compared with the US, Canada, and UK, Korea has lower tuition and living costs. International students do not have to pay higher fees and there are many scholarship programmes to assist international students financially.
- The Korean government has recently announced substantial support and deregulation for foreign students in areas such as scholarships, dormitory provision, part time jobs, and employment after graduation.
Entry and visa regulations
A visa is required but the application process is straightforward.
- Applicants must be able to prove that they will be able to pay tuition fees, living expenses for his/her maintenance and accommodation without working and without recourse to public funds.
Most international students who study abroad in Korea take courses offered in English.
- Many universities offer courses in certain subjects and majors in English, with some schools offering nearly a third of their courses in the language. English-language courses are more common at graduate level.
- Overseas students who want to study in English or Korean must prove their language proficiency, if the language is not their native tongue. Schools differ on types of language exam scores they accept, so it is important to check with individual schools about their requirements.
The university system
South Korea has a large and diversified higher education system with many private universities.
- Most undergraduate degrees are four year courses and many are taught in English.
- The academic year starts in March, but many universities admit new students twice a year, in March and September. The academic year is divided into two semesters, with a summer break from July to August, and winter break from December to February
- Generally, for applications by international students, the deadline for spring semester (March entry) is usually from September to November, and for autumn semester (September entry) from May to June. There is some variation between individual universities so check first.
- Applicants may print out an application form and send it by mail or courier service or apply online if available.
- Applicants who do not have English as their first language should take TOEFL, IELTS or other acceptable English language tests to prove their English proficiency.
Tuition fees and funding your study
- Tuition fees range from £1,275 to £3,800 a semester for undergraduates, and from £1,600–4,460 a semester for postgraduates.
- Many scholarships are available. Check listings at www.ied.go.kr as a starting point.
- Dormitory accommodation is the most convenient and economic place to live in.
- There are alternatives and universities provide help to find a place to stay and to understand the contract conditions.
- Students have to decide where to stay in Korea before arriving in the country.
Costs of living
Prices in Seoul are relatively high. If studying in Seoul, boarding or renting is much more expensive than in small and medium sized cities.
Working while studying
Since the 2008–09 academic year, student visa holders in degree courses of more than one year’s duration at tertiary institutions may take up short-term internships that are study/curriculum-related (and be arranged or endorsed by their university), and up to one year’s duration with no restriction on the nature of work, level of salary, location, number of working hours and employers.
- Students may alternatively take up part-time on-campus employment for up to 20 hours per week throughout the year or summer jobs (1 June to 31 August) with no limit on work hours and location.
- Graduates from a Hong Kong university may apply to stay or return to work.
Health and safety
Foreigners living in South Korea are registered with the National Health Insurance Corporation.
- High quality healthcare is available in South Korea in general hospitals, oriental hospitals (which use traditional eastern medical practices), public health centres and private hospitals. There is a three tier provision of medical facilities, depending on the size and the number of departments.
- Korea’s National Health Insurance Corporation provides health insurance for foreign students who stay in Korea for more than a year on the same basis as Korean nationals. Applicants must submit a copy of their alien registration card and verification of the purpose of stay at an office of the Corporation.
- South Korea is an extremely safe country, although theft, assault and hotel burglary might occur in larger cities. Care should be taken in known tourist areas and only legitimate taxis used. Security is monitored strictly in Korea, so crime is really rare and it is uncommon to have any big problems. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Republic of Korea can be severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences, heavy fines, and deportation at the end of their sentence.
WHY STUDY IN SOUTH KOREA?
South Korea is, in many ways, similar to other destinations around Asia; it features advanced, modern cities and large populations that are always on the go. Since 1948, it has diverged considerably from its neighbor, North Korea. Sought Korea is an amalgamation of the old and the new, with many temples, palaces, and UNESCO World Heritage sites alongside modern buildings and densely populated residential areas. It is highly influenced by American culture, but still manages to hold onto its proud history and culture.
The academic environment in Korea is highly competitive. Koreans take education – particularly higher education – very seriously. Academics in Korea are very competitive; students treat their teachers with respect and are extremely serious about their studies. Korea has a number of prestigious universities, and most of these are located in Seoul. Attending one of the universities is seen as a prerequisite for success in Korean society.
There are a variety of fields of study available for international students considering studying in Korea. The most popular fields of study in Korea are in the arts and science, closely followed by business-related courses. If you are an international student interested in any of these fields, enrolling in a South Korean university will ensure that you get the very best education Korea has to offer. If you are more interested in the culture or language of Korea, there are also a number of culture and language-based programs which will take you into the heart of South Korea’s cities and into the pastoral, more traditional countryside. Other unique educational programs include several intensive Korean language summer programs, as well as a National Science Foundation summer institute program for graduate students from the United States.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
Korea’s information and communication technology is considered as one of the best in the world. Korea is especially notable for its expertise in IT and Robotics. As an international student studying in Korea, you will be exposed to this technology, giving you a considerable edge over other students when you enter the work force. Additionally, this makes Korea a great place for international students with an interest in technology to study.
Studying in South Korea will open up a wide range of employment opportunities for you. Graduates from Korean universities are highly sought after by employers all over the world. In addition, the South Korean economy is extremely stable, assuring you a financially secure future following graduation.
BENEFITS OF STUDYING IN KOREA
According to ‘2011 National Competitiveness Report’ of IMD in Swiss, the education competitiveness of Korea was 29th among 59 countries that were subjects of the survey. Korea is 4th in Asia following Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, and higher than Japan and China. Also, in international comparison research of the academic achievements(PISA) by OECD, Korea took 3rd ~ 6th place in the recent years among 65 countries that were subjects of the survey. Especially, Korea was the first place in digital reading knowledge assessment. Based on such education competitiveness, Korea will be able to offer a higher level of education services to the students coming from abroad.
Advanced Country with Applied Science and State-of-the-art Technology
Korea was the first place among 152 countries that were subjects of the survey in ICT development index announced by International Telecommunication Union(ITU). The IT field of Korea is famous for its highest level in the world along with machinery, chemical, ship building and automobiles. Ultra high speed internet network supply is over 20 million households, and most of the families are using it. Considering that Korea is a strong IT country in the world, you can conclude that the technology and tradition of Koreans are suitable for new high-tech and creative fields. Studying in Korea with the most dynamic technological power in the world will provide you the basis for success in the future.
Rich Culture & Dynamic Life
As a country that kept old tradition and culture, Korea has preserved many cultural heritage and traditions. Various tangible and intangible culture made by thousands of years pervade in every corner of the society and continued until now. Korean-wave started from Korean dramas is extended to affection for Korean culture and love for Korean language, and the recent popularity of K-Pop shows that Korean-wave is taking a place as not only the culture of Korea but also as the culture of people all around the world that can be shared by everyone in the world. The study in Korea where long tradition and dynamic modern culture are developed with harmony is very attractive, and if you receive education and study in this environment, you will be able to develop the leadership and deep insight necessary as a leader to lead the human civilization in the future.
Low Tuition & Living Cost
Compared to English speaking countries such as U.S, Canada, and Britain, Korea has relatively lower cost of study including tuition and living cost. Korea does not impose additional fee for foreign students, and there are many scholarship programs for foreign students, so you can study without a big economic burden. Especially, as Korean government recently announced substantial support and deregulation for foreign students in scholarship, dormitory, part time jobs, and employment after graduation, the study in Korea became more convenient and possible with less cost. Geopolitically, Korea is located in Northeast Asia, and for Asian territories, it is very close, so it is easy to visit Korea with low cost, and culturally, as the same Eastern cultural region, students may adapt without much trouble emotionally and culturally during their study
Support for Careers
We are holding Employment Exhibition every year for foreign students to help employment in Korea, and through foreign students’ employment support homepage (www.goldcard.or.kr), employment information are provided to foreign students. Especially, with gold card system for graduates of advanced technology field and science card system for high class science and technology manpower, we are helping the employment and visa issuance of the foreign students.
For foreign students attending undergraduate or master/doctorate course in Korean universities, or language school students of 6 months after entrance to Korea, they can legally have part time jobs after receiving activity permit outside resident qualification. Part time job information can be acquired through school employment centers and regional newspapers.
WANT TO STUDY ABROAD IN KOREA? 14 THINGS TO EXPECT
Studying abroad is a great experience, especially if you’re interested in a foreign culture and language. And Korea is an awesome destination for anyone looking to expand their horizons. If you’re thinking about studying abroad in Korea, here’s 14 things you can expect about universities in Korea!
- Boy oh boy do schools want you!
- Korean universities are becoming increasingly competitive when it comes to enrolling foreigner students in attempts to meet global standards. Foreign students are a good source of cash flow for universities and also can improve the university’s image on a global scale. Universities are also allowed to accept as many foreign students as they want.
- You gotta speak Korean
- Unless you are wanting to attend an exchange program or are getting your masters, you will need to have a decent level of Korean proficiency. Most Korean universities will want you to have a TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) score of at least 4 or better (which is the equivalent to intermediate proficiency). For masters programs it’s pretty much the same, but some will give you a bit of wiggle room depending on your intended field of study (like if your major is going to have something to do with English, Korean Language, or English education).
- Between 25-30% of your classes will be taught in English
- Yes, they’ll be taught in English, but they’ll be taught in English by Korean professors. This is true of every major you could possibly choose (Korean Language possibly being the only exception). These professors will be teaching in English, but might not have the best English, so Korean proficiency will still benefit you in the long-run when you ask your fellow students for help. The main motivation for many Korean students to learn English is to either obtain a good TOEIC score or to just be able to understand what the crap their teachers are saying in lectures. On the bright side…
- Tuition and housing are, comparatively, cheap!
- Especially if you are coming here from the United States. The average for one year’s tuition in a Korean university is 6.7 million won (approx. $6,000). For on campus housing it will only cost you about 700 thousand won ($625). Compared to an average tuition cost of $22,000 for one year of college in America and suddenly learning Korean and getting your butt to this side of the planet just became a LOT more reasonable!
- Not all Korean universities are created equal
- Every Korean high schooler goes to sleep thinking of three letters and three letters only: S.K.Y. These letters stand for the traditionally top three universities in Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. Though for your major one of the SKY might not be the best, a degree from one of these three schools (especially SNU) will have you pretty much set for a successful life in Korea. These schools are also fierce rivals (particularly KU and YU, always the bridesmaid) while all other schools in Korea are constantly held up to their standard.
- The freedom of college life.
- Life as a Korean college student is an intense balancing act. Korean students have become extremely accustomed to a life of studying non-stop after high school. Come college time many of them are living outside of the house for the first time and/or suddenly have WAY less pressure on them to constantly be studying and taking classes. This means one thing: partying. Korean college students party just as hard and possibly more often than the students in your home country. But this partying system also leads to…
- Peer pressure from upperclassmen
- For the very first time in their entire lives some of these students are experiencing power. Korean high schools rarely mix the class levels but in university being an upperclassman comes with privileges and plenty of opportunities for mischief. Underclassmen see their upperclassmen as mentors and guides and will pretty much do whatever their seniors say they should. This includes drinking and partying until the wee hours. Conversely…
- I get by with a little help from my sunbae!
- Sunbae (affectionate term for upperclassmen) will often treat their hubae (underclassmen) to lunches, drinks, and dinners in which they shower the junior they’ve taken under their wing with advice and lend a sympathetic ear. This is called naeri sarang (descending love). Sunbae take their jobs very seriously and expect their hubae to call them whenever they are having any trouble.
- Part time jobs, babeh!
- Many Korean university students also work part-time to help pay for their tuition or to help pay for their weekend high jinks. Universities themselves hire a large number of their own students to help out with various jobs around campus. As a foreigner, many unique work opportunities on campus will be open to you, but many jobs off campus might be harder to get. But, if all else fails, tutoring is always a viable option.
- Dating, College student style
- In Korea, it’s not common to just walk up the hottie sitting next to you in econ and slyly pass them your number with a slick nod and smooth utterance of “call me.” No sir. Most Korean college students have either dedicated themselves to achieving the perfect TOEIC score (Test of English for International Communities) or will only meet possible significant others through their friends. The most common way to meet perspective partners is in group dates called meetings. A group of girl friends will go with a group of guy friends and feel out who matches with who. Then there’s the more private sogaeting, which is a blind date set up by your friends. Student organizations are also used as places for young singles to meet. But, if you upset the wrong person…
- Transferring between universities is extremely difficult
- And getting harder. For Korean students, the Korean ministry of education sets the number of students that will be allowed to transfer each year. This is because most students desire only to transfer to a school better than their current one. For a foreigner, you need to have attended a university for at least two years before you can attempt to transfer into a Korean university. Transferring between Korean universities, as a foreigner, is not a common procedure and would mean the requirements would be the same as freshman entrance into a university.
- Koreans can’t major in just any old thing they want.
- This is only true for Koreans. As a Korean, once you’ve obtained entrance into a Korean school your testing days are not over. You’ll also have to take what is called the “entrance exam.” This exam determines what majors you are qualified to pursue. Even if you are extremely passionate about becoming an engineer if your test scores say you don’t have the basic mathematic score, you wont be permitted to enter that field of study. If your scores say you’re best for accounting and not education, you either have to suck it up and play the hand you’re dealt, or go to a different university.
- You’ll need at least one major and one minor.
- Most Korean college students have one major and one minor. Most of the time it’s a minor within the college you’re majoring in, like an Economics major also minoring in Sociology. This often means that you’ll have a good deal more coursework than you might have experienced in your home country. (This is the system in S.K.Y. schools, but it might be less demanding in less prestigious universities)
- Adapt, React, Readapt, Apt
- Don’t try to live your Korean student life in the same way you lived as a student in your own country. The ability to adapt and adjust to Korean student life is the key to success in a Korean university. You will experience culture shock, no matter how much you’ve studied up or how many KDramas you’ve watched, but living through it and overcoming it is far from impossible. Just learn to go with the flow and roll with the punches and your life as a Korean university student is sure to be a pleasant one!
Hopefully now you are up to speed on what it’s like to be a Korean university student.