European countries discuss educational integration through the Bologna Process and Erasmus Mundus for example, but Asian governments are too slow. They have a lot of barriers to it, but we need to share information and ideas. KOSA will be going to China next month to do just this.
The PIE: We’ve reported on the Beijing Overseas Study Service Association’s Green Pathway scheme which enables Chinese students to avoid fraudulent agents when applying to Korean universities. Is KOSA planning similar schemes?
SH: The Green Pathway is a brilliant idea. We’re always discussing ideas like this among the KOSA directors. What I can say is that we will work more to help foreign associations such as the Taiwan Overseas Study Association (TOSA) and BOSSA understand what Korean students need and want. They will also help us understand their students’ needs and wants. If we can achieve this I’ll be happy.
The PIE: What trends do you forecast for Korean study abroad in 2012-13?
SH: English is very important part of our lives – we are an open society, we trade with many countries. So as time goes by, I think English will become even more important and more Koreans will want to study it. However, I foresee more Koreans choosing to stay in Korea to learn. I don’t agree with this – immersion abroad is the best way to pick up the highest standard of English and become really fluent.
“The Philippines will grow, because it’s cheap and nearby. South Africa’s becoming more interesting too”
The PIE: What about destination trends?
SH: I think that the USA will remain the most popular for Koreans. I’m not sure about Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Philippines, Malaysia are still popular, India and Indonesia too. The Philippines will grow, because it’s cheap and nearby. South Africa’s becoming more interesting too. European countries are still attractive, but it’s tough from here. Many Koreans go to the UK or Ireland – they will grow I think.
The PIE: You get to travel around Asia quite a lot. What do you like best about the continent?
SH: I like local food! Sushi and noodles are great in Japan. Thailand is great for soup. It’s also very comfortable and familiar travelling in Asia. When I speak English in English-speaking countries I’m not great, but in Asia people’s English is also not great and we can understand each other very well!