China to become top favorite nation of Koreans studying abroad
A growing number of South Koreans have been visiting China to study there in recent years, probably outnumbering those to the United States this year for the first time if the current trend persists, a report shows Monday.
According to the education ministry, 66,806 Koreans went to China to study in 2009, up from 57,504 in 2008, 42,269 in 2007 and 29,102 in 2006.
The population of students enrolling in universities and graduate schools in China increased twofold during the 2006-2009 period from 14,611 to 28,836, indicating a notable trend in which more are seeking degrees rather than short-term language training.
The growth rate for students heading to the United States, the most popular overseas education destination, was slower, recording 68,124 in 2009 compared to 57,940 in 2006. Those going to Japan totaled a little over 18,000 last year, up from some 15,000 in 2006.
China is soon expected to have more Korean students than the U.S., considering the comparatively rapid surge rate in the recent years, the report noted.
Experts see the changing preference as a result of China's strong support for higher education and its influential status in the international community both politically and economically.
"As the Chinese government has actively made investments to have its universities provide quality education, gain prestige and attract talented people, more Korean students seem to be heading (to China)," Ryu Ji-sung, a researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute, said.