Gov’t to attract top foreign institutes

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Gov’t to attract top foreign institutes

In a move to lure more international students to the country, the government has proposed easing education regulations to enable foreign academic bodies to jointly establish schools in Korea with institutes here.

It also proposed enabling private academies and institutes to issue visas to foreign students wishing to study here.

The Ministry of Education yesterday announced the policies, which are expected to entice top schools abroad to open up campuses in Korea in education hubs and free economic zones - such as Songdo in Incheon - and boost the number of foreign students, particularly from Asian countries.

Other ministries also agreed upon the measures at a trade and investment promotion committee meeting, presided over yesterday by President Park Geun-hye.

The government also said it wants to encourage talented Korean students to stay in the country to pursue higher education, rather than studying overseas. While 70 percent of Korean students enrolled in college last year, a considerable portion opted to study abroad. According the Education Ministry, there is a $4 billion deficit because so many students choose to study overseas, which has contributed to 47.4 percent of the shortfall in Korea’s service industry.

Previously, international academic institutes were unable to open up campuses in Korea as a joint venture with institutes here. However, the recent change is expected to help attract more prestigious foreign schools to the country, which, in turn, would provide more incentive for Korean students to study domestically.

A wider range of top global universities available at home is expected to cut costs for students wanting to study overseas without forgoing the quality of their education.

Policies to encourage this include enabling the delay of mandatory military conscription for Korean male students enrolled in foreign universities here, in cooperation with the Ministry of National Defense.

The Education Ministry also proposes decreasing the minimum Korean-language level required for foreign students studying here - the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) - from Level 3 to Level 2.

Private academies and other training institutions, such as in language-training or cooking schools, will also be able to issue visas for foreign students to come study here, which was previously limited to universities. Such students will be issued D-4 visas for general training. The visa for regular education programs, a D-2, is available for students working toward their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees. “The visa policy will be reviewed after a trial-run next year,” an Education Ministry official confirmed.

The government also plans to increase its budget for this project over the next five years to 40 billion won ($38 million), five times the current amount.

BY SARAH KIM, KIM SUNG-TAK [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]




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