Korea – a Unique Experience for International Students
As education consultants in Mumbai, we deal with a lot of students who are looking to explore and diversify their options when it comes to doing their higher studies. While traditionally, students from India have looked to the U.S, U.K, Canada and Australia for their higher education, other destinations like Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands and Germany are appealing to a diverse international student body. South Korea is the newest addition to this list for the student who is looking for an alternative, unique experience. As of 2013, 500 Indian students were studying in South Korea, with the number expected to rise in the next couple of years. It offers many benefits; from a great infrastructure, lower costs, access to resources and smaller classrooms.
There are 400 universities in Korea, with 40 of them being public. The highest quality universities are located in Seoul (approximately 20), including the three that are most well known, Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korean University. Although you can set your sights outside of Seoul, Korean language skills are more required the further you move away from the capital city.
Besides this, there is a new global campus in Seoul that is growing to include universities from outside Korea. While the main campus of some of these universities is located in the U.S, it is less expensive to study at their Korean campus than studying at their main U.S. campus. Admissions to these universities is relatively easier in comparison to the local top universities, as they do not focus solely on academic achievement.
The Korean education system is highly competitive. You need to be academically inclined to be seriously considered for admission to a Korean university and only students with a 36+ in their IBDP are considered by the top 7 universities. There are no entrance exams and the transcripts need to be sent by October of the previous year. The requirement to submit SAT varies from university to university. The first term of the academic year begins in September and the second term starts in March.
Studying in Korea is relatively easy on the pocket, with an average tuition fee in Seoul amounting to USD 6,500 (approximately 4 lakhs 35 thousand).
Over 50% of students in top universities find employment within their field, but bear in mind that the vast majority of international students who go to Korean universities go back to their home countries. It is now becoming more common for students to stay in Korea after their degree once they have secured the necessary paperwork.
A high percentage of international students tend to be Americans of Korean origin, though there is growing interest among other Asian countries. For example, 60% of the students at Yonsei University are international, with the majority of them being from China. Though Korean language skills are helpful, there are colleges in these Universities that provide all their courses in English, such as The Underwood College at Yonsei University. This is a liberal arts college, offering majors such as economics and and political science and international relations. The rigour of the program is maintained with a diverse faculty, where 95.6% hold doctorates in their field of study.
Financial aid for international students
With regards to the undergraduate programs, Seoul National University offers two kinds of scholarships. One of them is the Korean Government Scholarship Program. (KGSP) This is typically for students who wish to study a four-year course and it is given to about 20-40 students. The Overseas Korean Scholarship is another award given to approximately 5 students. Most Korean universities will agree to offer aid on the condition that you are willing to learn the language intensively.
Korea is an interesting destination for students who are looking for countries with the same resources as the West, without the heavy price tag. Despite the language barrier, Korea can be a promising environment for students, with more universities offering liberal arts options and teaching courses in English as well as the opportunity to specialise in fields like technology and cosmetology (especially practices in plastic surgery) and explore Asian culture.