China gaining on U.S. as study-abroad favorite
China may soon surpass the United States as the most popular destination for study abroad among Koreans.
According to data released by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology yesterday, the United States is the most popular country for studying abroad, with 69,124 students departing for education there last year. China is now a narrow second, attracting 66,806 students.
China’s popularity is a new phenomenon. Koreans studying there increased from 29,102 in 2006 to 66,806 last year, a 130 percent increase. In the same period, the number of students heading for the U.S. rose from 57,940 to 69,124, or 19 percent.
The total number of students going abroad to study jumped from 190,364 to 243,224 in that four-year period, with two-thirds of the increase attributable to China. Last year, one in four students chose China as the destination for their studies.
Years ago, most students went to China for language training, but no longer. The number of Koreans completing Chinese undergraduate courses or earning higher degrees has almost doubled in four years, from 14,611 in 2006 to 28,836 in 2009.
“China has made a huge investment in the education sector to establish the world’s best university and to attract the world’s finest minds,” said Ryu Ji-seong, a researcher at Samsung Economic Research Institute. “As a result, the quality of education available in China has increased dramatically and its efforts are paying off.”