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Overseas students surge 32% in 5 years

The number of Korean students studying abroad has jumped more than 32 percent over the past five years, data unveiled by a lawmaker showed Monday.

A total of 251,887 students were reported to have studied overseas in 2010, up from 190,364 in 2006, according to the Education Ministry figures submitted to Rep. Ju Kwang-deok of the ruling Grand National Party. The number of Korean international students rose 4.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, despite a drop of 1,092 students in 2008 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Of the total, 60.7 percent went abroad to pursue degrees, with the remaining 39.3 percent for language study.

For students studying for degrees, the U.S. and China were two most popular countries, taking up 29.8 and 25.5 percent, respectively. Of students who went overseas for language study, 67 percent chose Asia-Pacific countries including Australia, New Zealand or the Philippines for cheaper expenses, followed by Europe with 18.7 percent and North America at 13.4 percent.

“Students choose to study overseas for something that they cannot get through education in Korea. In order to change the situation, we should improve language and higher education in the country,” the lawmaker said.

By Lee Woo-young  (