Benefit for foreigners to shrink
Scholarships for foreign students still generous
By Kim Da-ye
The majority of foreign students enrolled in Korea’s top MBA programs enjoy the benefit of scholarships, which many business schools dole out to attract foreign nationals as part of a strategy to globalize their courses.
As Korea became better known for its relatively strong economy and industry-leading companies and Korean institutions increasingly gain global recognition, the pool of funds available for foreign students is expected to shrink with the criteria for choosing recipients developing.
The conventional formulae used for selecting recipients of scholarships tend to be straightforward and inclusive.
Sogang Business School of Sogang University, for instance, offers 100 percent tuition fees as scholarships to candidates who come from English-speaking countries and speak English as a primary language.
Criteria, however, are becoming diverse and somewhat complex.
Yonsei University School of Business, which was placed 76th on The Economist’s 2011 full-time MBA ranking, for instance, used to award scholarships to all admitted students from developing countries.
The institution now offers three kinds of scholarships _ “merit-based” scholarships, global fellowships for diversity and “need-based” fellowships. For example, in choosing candidates for merit-based scholarships, the school looks into candidates’ academic background, work experience, leadership and, importantly their GMAT score. For the need-based one, candidates from countries with low national outputs are considered. The number of recipients is limited to one from each country to ensure the diversity of the student body.
The tuition of the 16.5-month long, full-time Global MBA program that is fully taught in English is 50 million won. The school provides 25 to 100 percent of the tuition as scholarships plus up to 1 million won in a stipend. The recipients of scholarships are required to work for 10 hours per week as an assistant.
Sungkyunkwan University SKK GSB awards 100 percent, 50 percent and 25 percent of the tuition as scholarships and 13 out of 14 foreign students who were enrolled in the Global MBA program in 2011 received them. The school was ranked 66th on the Financial Times’ top 100 full-time global MBA rankings.
The one-year-and-four-month Global MBA program is fully taught in English and tuitions cost 43 million won throughout the course from 2012. Students must maintain good grades to continue receiving scholarships.
In case of Seoul National University, the Graduate School of Business awarded full-tuition scholarships to three foreign students and a half-tuition scholarship to one. There are seven foreign students in the class of 2012 in the Global MBA program, which lasts 12 months and four semesters and costs 43 million won.
The amount of the scholarship funding changes each year and this affects the number of recipients.
The scholarship is paid per semester, and after the first semester, it is awarded depending on the recipients’ grades. The school awards only those that it must secure, an official said.
At Korea University Business School, 12 out of 16 foreign students enrolled in 2011 benefited from scholarships. Nine of them qualified for full tuition, two for half and one for 30 percent.
The school evaluates candidates’ academic background, nationality, career path, potential and financial status.
In KAIST’s Techno MBA program, which is partly taught in English, 13 out of 16 students enrolled in 2011 and 2012 received full scholarships which included not only full tuition paid but also covered living expenses.
While institutions try to toughen the criteria, the portion of foreign students receiving scholarships remains high because foreign students tend to enroll precisely for that reason. Those who have been admitted by multiple schools select schools that offer the best scholarships.
An industry source who request anonymity said, “Domestic institutions should raise the bar even further for foreign students so that they do not give the impression that Korean MBA degrees are free.”