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Posted : 2008-02-05 17:06
Updated : 2008-02-05 17:06

Many Students Make U-Turn From Overseas Studies

By Kang Shin-who
Staff Reporter

A growing number of university students are coming back home from overseas studies recently. But not to celebrate Lunar New Year holidays _ they are back to transfer to Korean universities.

One of the key reasons: It's easier to graduate here. At the same time, higher tuition and living costs are forcing them to quit overseas studies. And local companies' favoritism of graduates from overseas schools is also fading.

Dongguk University said Tuesday it had received transfer applications from 50 students attending overseas schools this year. The number of ``returning students'' at the school rose to 38 in 2007 from 25 in 2006.

Konkuk University has also shown a steady rise in the number of students quitting overseas studies for enrollment at the school. The figure rose to 72 this year from 50 in 2007 and from 45 in 2006. It's the same with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, which saw 75 applicants from overseas universities this year.

The overall figures covering universities across the nation were not available. But university admission officials say it is true that a growing number of students are giving up overseas studies to transfer to Korean schools.

They attributed the trend to the different systems between Korean universities and those in the U.S., Canada and Australia.

``It's rather easier for Korean students to enter overseas universities compared to domestic universities, while it's harder for them to graduate from them,'' said Moon Heung-ahn, admission official of Konkuk University. ``That's the main reason behind the rise in transfers to Korean universities.''

On top of the difficulty in graduating from overseas schools, high costs are also forcing students to give up studying there.

``Basically tuition fees at my previous school were much higher than here and there were not many scholarship programs I could apply for. Moreover, housing costs were also a big burden to me,'' said Cho Seug-hee. He is now studying business management at a local university in Seoul after quitting a U.S. school.

An official of the Job & Career Development Center at Dongguk University said employers prefer graduates from domestic universities unless the job seekers are from prestigious overseas universities.

Kim Seung-hwan who also attended a U.S. college said many Korean students at his previous school are considering transferring to local universities that put more weight on English for their admission tests.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development recently announced it will promote more dual degree programs between Korean universities and overseas schools to curb a possible brain drain.

``We aim to keep more elite students at Korean universities and encourage more foreign students to come to Korea at the same time,'' said Shim Mi-kyung, a ministry official.

kswho@koreatimes.co.kr

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