Korean universities are struggling to find ways to keep Chinese students in isolation to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, facing a lack of appropriate dormitory rooms to accommodate them.
The Education Ministry has advised universities to allot a dorm room for each Chinese student to stay in isolation for 14 days upon arrival in Korea.
At least 20,000 Chinese students in Seoul will have to stay off the campus, however, as there are not enough dorm rooms, according to university officials.
According to statistics from the Korean Educational Development Institute released on Wednesday, 17 universities in Seoul had more than 1,000 Chinese students enrolled as of April last year.
Kyung Hee University (3,839), Sungkyunkwan University (3,330) and Chung-Ang University (3,199 ) each had more than 3,000 Chinese students.
Five universities -- Hanyang (2,949), Korea (2,833), Dongguk (2,286), Konkuk (2,284) and Kookmin (2,059) -- also had over 2,000 such students.
Then came Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (1,810), Yonsei (1,772), Hongik (1,694), Sangmyung (1,375), Soongsil (1,349), Woosong (1,315), Ewha Womans (1,304), Dankook (1,139) and Sogang (1,129).
The Korean Council for University Education, which has been commissioned by the Education Ministry to publish information on universities, discloses the number of dormitory rooms each university has.
According to the KCUE, of the 17 universities that have more than 1,000 Chinese students, 15 had fewer dorm rooms than the number of Chinese students enrolled.
Hanyang University had 2,949 Chinese students, but only 1,015 dorm rooms.
In total, about 14,000 Chinese students at the 17 universities cannot be housed in dorm rooms even if all of them are used to accommodate them, which is not the case.
Most universities in Seoul plan to use only some of their dormitory buildings to quarantine the Chinese students, as they also have other students. There are universities with fewer than 1,000 Chinese students, and many Chinese students who choose to live off campus.
University officials said at least 20,000, or even more than 25,000, Chinese students in Seoul won’t be able to get a dorm room.
Over 35,000 Chinese students are enrolled at universities in the capital.
University officials say local governments should open their facilities as temporary accommodations for Chinese students.
About 19,000 Chinese students were in Korea as of Tuesday, according to the Education Ministry, and another 50,000 are expected to return for the spring semester.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org