|Nyenrode Business Universiteit in Breukelen, the Netherlands. (Nuffic Neso Korea)|
Song Young-han always wanted to attend an MBA course overseas but could not afford the high tuition fees and the time off from work without financial assistance. He also did not even know where to apply until he found out about the Orange Tulip Scholarship.
The Dutch scholarship program pays students ― even those who do not speak Dutch ― to study in the Netherlands.
Under its support Song, 35, is now studying full-time at the TiasNimbas Business School.
He said one of the best things about the school ― which is considered one of the top 20 European business schools ― is the diverse mix of international students.
“We have 32 students from 15 different countries in our class. It’s a perfect environment for learning global skills, apart from the high quality curriculum,” he said in an email interview.
“Studying again can be challenging sometimes, but I’m really enjoying being here. It wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the scholarship.”
Faced with a sluggish economy and a decline in the number of domestic students, coupled with growing global competition, European universities are reshaping their programs and facilities to attract more non-European students.
Not only some of top business schools, but also some of the leading comprehensive institutions have now expanded scholarship schemes to attract students from the Asia-Pacific region, with Korea being one the main target areas.
Experts say one obvious reason is that international students contribute significantly to the regional economy through living expenses and tuition fees.
Another reason is that universities nowadays put a high value on a more international classroom and want a good balance between international and local students, according to Willemijn van Os, the director of Nuffic Neso Korea.
“This diversity in the classroom stimulates creativity and debate, facilitates learning across borders and helps global leadership to grow,” she told The Korea Herald.
The director noted that Korean students, in particular, are sought after by Dutch institutions.
“Korean students are popular in the international classroom because of their intelligence, good educational background and strong work ethic,” she added.
Nuffic is a nonprofit organization from the Netherlands designed to promote internationalization in Dutch higher education. Since 2008, Nuffic Neso Korea has been helping Korean students to study in the Netherlands through the Orange Tulip Scholarship program.
Some of the country’s leading universities ― including Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, Amsterdam Business School and TiasNimbas Business School ― are participating in the scholarship scheme.
This year, 31 Koreans, up from 21 last year, will get a chance to study in the Netherlands on scholarships totaling 343,000 euros ($472,000), according to the director.
“(In the Netherlands) there are now over 1,800 programs offered in English, which means you can basically study anything you want in English, including architecture, design, music, law and business,” she added.
The United Kingdom is also a popular study destination for Korean students. The British government, in particular, has been sponsoring post-graduate studies in the U.K. through the Chevening Scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to select students who pursue one-year master’s degrees in any subject at any of the United Kingdom’s more than 1,800 postgraduate courses.
This year, 23 Koreans have already received scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic year.
The goal of improving one’s English may no longer mean having to attend an American institution. Figures show that rising numbers of European universities in countries including France, Germany, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands are offering courses taught in English.
This growth has been particularly noticeable in postgraduate studies, with the number of English-taught master’s programs available on the continent more than quadrupling over the past five years, according a study by the New York-based Institute of International Education.
For example, in Finland there are more than 240 master’s programs taught in English. The Finnish Government also offers scholarships of 3-9 months for doctoral-level studies and research positions at Finnish universities or public research institutes through the Finnish Government Scholarship Pool program to young researchers from 13 countries, including Korea.
The European Union also offers full-time scholarships for a wide range of master’s and doctorate programs to students from outside the European Union with the Erasmus Mundus Program. The program offers full scholarships and fellowships that cover the living costs and tuition fees of the students.
Other European government scholarships include France’s Eiffel Excellence scholarship program and the German Academic Exchange Service. For more information, visit Korea’s National Institute for International Education website, www.niied.go.kr.
The Dutch director admitted that Korea’s higher education institutions now offer “high quality and outstanding” courses. Still, she said she believes studying in Europe may help students be more “creative and think out of the box.”
“If you are interested in broadening your skills, knowledge and experience in such a way, studying in the Netherlands can be a great opportunity for you,” she added.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)