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Colleges under fire for handling of foreign students

More foreigners are coming to Korea to study, but their universities seem incapable of managing them properly, the government said Sunday.

Many schools did not monitor student attendance and even awarded diplomas to students who had not qualified for them.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology investigated 29 universities nationwide from December through January and found that all of them had violated more than one of the rules on foreign student management.

Ten schools were warned for offenses that include giving credits to students who had not attended class; helping the graduation of foreign students who hadn’t showed up at classes; and not reporting students who violated employment laws to police ― it is thought some foreign students enroll at Korean universities simply to get work here.

One school was caught giving credits to students who were not even in Korea during the semester. At another school, the dropout rate of foreign students exceeded 50 percent, which could be considered a “failure,” the ministry said.

Some schools hired unauthorized brokers to induce students who lacked Korean language ability, just to fill up the numbers.

The ministry ordered the schools to correct the illegal practices regarding foreign students. If they fail to meet the standards again, their names will be disclosed and they will face disadvantages in state subsidies and recommendation of visa issuance for their students.

On the other hand, the ministry will select the top three schools in terms of management of foreign students and will provide them with assorted perks.

The number of foreign students studying in Korea, which stood at 32,000 in 2006, increased to 49,000 in 2007, 64,000 in 2008, 75,000 in 2009 and 83,000 in 2010. The ministry has conducted this research since 2009, when slack foreign student management was highlighted as an issue.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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