The government plans to double the number of foreign students in domestic universities to 200,000 by 2020 by boosting the quality of higher education and improving recruitment policies.
To meet the goal, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will reinforce polices such as providing a one-stop online information center and expanding its scholarship programs for foreign students, officials said.
The measure was announced as Korean universities are expected to suffer a decrease in intake, something that is already forcing some of them to scale down and consolidate.
The number of foreign students enrolled in Korean universities has continued to grow since the government first introduced the “Study Korea Project,” in 2004 with the aim of making Korea an education hub in Asia.
The number jumped from 16,832 in 2004 to 83,842 in 2010, well surpassing its initial target of 50,000. The number last year stood at 89,537 and the majority of foreign students were from China with 57,783, followed by Japan with 3,876 and Mongolia with 3,333.
With the number expected to reach 100,000 this year, the government is now aiming to double the number by 2020.
In order to reach the target the ministry announced Monday a series of new polices for foreign students. The new polices include launching a one-stop online website for foreign students who want to study in Korea.
The ministry has already set up a website on higher education in Korea (www.studyinkorea.go.kr), which is currently available in 11 languages, and it is now planning to expand it as a Korean education portal, providing comprehensive information on Korean universities and also application procedures for foreign students.
Also to encourage more foreign students studying in Korea, the government will expand its “Global Korea Scholarship,” program, the ministry said.
For 2010 alone, some 50 billion won ($44 million) was allocated to support more than 2,100 foreign students here, and the government will now expand the annual GKS budget up to 100 billion won ($88 million) by 2015.
The ministry is moving to encourage Korean universities to set up overseas branches, but it will also toughen the certification of universities to help enhance the quality of education services for foreign students.
The government will also expand its overseas development assistance for developing countries to attract their students and will also take steps to promote study programs in Korea through Korean Cultural Centers across the globe, the ministry said.
The government started to target foreign students in 2004 with the launch of the Study Korea Project.
The government is expecting many positive effects from attracting foreign students, such as cultivating human resources overseas and nurturing more Korea-friendly leaders of foreign countries.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)