[Viewpoint] Asia’s new education hub: JejuKoreans have spent a total of $35 billion on overseas education and remittances since 1993. This is equivalent to nearly 23 percent of Korea’s total trade surplus of $150.5 billion over the same period. Last year alone, spending related to overseas education was $3.94 billion.
As of the end of last year, 243,224 Koreans were attending foreign universities and 27,349 Koreans of high school age or below were attending overseas schools. This places a financial burden on the nation and households, while creating social problems such as separated families.
To address these issues, the government has launched the Jeju English Education City as part of a nationwide initiative to offer world-class education for local students. North London Collegiate School (NLCS), which recently celebrated its 160th anniversary, will start breaking ground in the second half of this year for school construction.
The school to be established in Jeju by NLCS, to be named North London Collegiate School Jeju, will be accredited both overseas and in Korea, and students graduating from the school will receive a diploma from NLCS in the U.K. With its IB (International Baccalaureate) program, which is widely used in admission evaluations by leading universities worldwide, students who graduate from the school will qualify for various scholarships.
Besides NLCS, we are moving quickly to sign formal agreements with Branksome Hall in Canada and St. Albans School in the U.S.
I think that when the total resident population of Jeju English Education City, which is scheduled to open next year, reaches 23,000 in 2017, we will fully realize the full benefits. Thanks to the city, around 9,000 students will save up to $500 million annually in combined tuition and living expenses.
We anticipate that the cost advantages and favorable geographical location will play a major role in attracting students from neighboring countries, such as China and Japan.
The provision of education for those from the 4th grade through high school will help relieve the negative aspects of studying abroad for younger students.
A new education brand is ready to be born in Jeju in September next year once school construction begins and teachers are hired and trained.
There is an old Korean proverb that goes “People should go to Seoul, and horses should go to Jeju.” We believe this will be replaced by a new proverb of “People should go to Jeju for education” in the near future.
*The writer is CEO & Chairman of the Jeju Free International City Development Center.
By Byon Jong-il