The Korea Herald


Korean universities seek to lure more foreign students

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : June 20, 2024 - 16:34

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YEONGJONGDO, Incheon -- As more and more universities in South Korea face financial crises due to a shrinking student population, four-year colleges are eyeing attracting and educating international students to secure successful operations of their institutes.

A survey result conducted with some 130 presidents of universities showed such a trend, where 52.7 percent of respondents were interested in securing foreign students, which came as the third on the agenda of their interests, following financial aid from the government and freshmen recruitment.

The results came in a two-day seminar hosted by the Korean Council for University Education, which kicked off Wednesday. Universities' interest in securing international students increased compared to last year, when it was seventh.

Raising tuition fees, which was third last year in the same survey asking what university presidents were interested in most, came sixth this time, showing that schools are changing their strategies in luring students for admissions.

"The only way to cope with the financial pressure is to win financial aid projects or increase the number of new students, but amid the declining school-age population and the centralization of the capital region, the only alternative is to attract more foreign students," said the president of a national university at Wednesday's forum.

Since 2009, the government has maintained its stance on freezing tuition fees for 15 years straight, as universities have argued strongly for an increase, citing chronic financial shortages.

"In a situation where (universities) have repeatedly said that it is necessary to raise tuition fees. But as the freeze continues, universities are scrambling to find other avenues to survive," said the president of a local private university.

"Although everyone agrees that it is necessary to raise tuition fees, the situation is so serious that the financial crisis that has fallen on the feet of universities should be extinguished immediately."