Toward globalizationAs a consequence of ongoing globalization, the internationalization of universities is now inevitable. As part of efforts to keep pace with rapid globalization, each university continues to send its exchange students to universities abroad. The local universities put more emphasis on building close ties with universities worldwide, while they are collaborating to offer dual degree programs as well as cross-registration. In addition to these efforts, they are striving to attract more foreign students to Korea.
With these tireless efforts on campus, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology yesterday announced the “Study Korea Project.” It aims to recruit 100,000 foreign students to study in Korea by 2012. It is a welcome step toward globalization. However, quality is more important than quantity. As of 2007, of 49,000 foreign students across the country, 3,920 students, or 8 percent, became illegal immigrants after leaving their school without permission.
Among foreign students here, 93 percent are from other Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan. Foreign students from North America and Europe account for just 6 percent of the total, while only 1 percent is from Africa. If this proportion is continued, it will be a long time until we have true internationalization.
Each university has to recruit talented foreign students and nurture them as global leaders. To make it happen, all the universities are supposed to try their best to develop their own specialized study abroad program as well as improve their educational circumstances. To raise the quality of study abroad programs, the Korean government can select some universities as specialized foreigner-friendly schools. In addition, the government is expected to increase the number of government-invited foreign scholarship students to attract more highly-qualified foreign students from all over the world.
The government, however, is not equal to all the tasks due to its limited budget. So companies and foundations must pick up the ball and assist the government. For example, Posco TJ Park Foundation selects 35 talented foreign students in the Asian region every year and gives them a chance to study for a masters degree in Korea.
Foreign students are a potential workforce, who will be able to contribute to the development of Korea on the world stage. From now on, the Korean government and other companies and foundations should have in mind the goal of raising the quality of foreign students.