The 18.8% increase will come as good news to the Ministry of Education after international student enrolments dropped in the 2012-2014 period. As a result of revamped efforts to attract international students the growth rate rose to 7.6% in 2015 and 14.2% in 2016.
Universities around the Seoul metropolitan area are home to almost 58% of the international students
NIIE, which is affiliated with the education ministry, reported a total of 123,850 international students in the country as of April 2017.
Of this 70,232 of the total were enrolled in higher education degree programs, the other 51,856 were enrolled in non-degree programs.
This marks a total increase of 20,000 on the previous year, edging the country closer to its goal of hosting 200,000 students by 2020.
The largest number of students came from China, which accounted for 68,184 (55%) followed by Vietnam at 14,614 (11.8%), Mongolia at 5,384 (4.3%) and Japan at 3,828 (3%).
Students from the US (2,767) and Uzbekistan at (2,716) made up 2% of the total respectively, followed by Taiwan( 2,195), France (1,344), Indonesia (1,334), and Malaysia (1,177).
Universities around the Seoul metropolitan area are home to almost 58% of the international students attending South Korean universities, followed by Chucheong province (13.8%), Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongsang province (9.7%), Gangwon province, Daegu, North Gyeongsang province (9.5%) and Jeju and Jeolla province (9.3%).
Chinese students also made up the largest proportion, 80%, of international students enrolled in universities on South Korea’s resort island of Jeju.
Korea University topped the list of the number of Chinese students with 3,858, trailed by Kyunghee University with 3,526, Sungkyunkwan University with 2,865, Dongguk University with 2,652, and ChungAng University with 2,593.
Wonkwang University accounted for the largest number of Vietnamese students at 850, with Korea University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Sangmyung University receiving 576, 519 and 491 Vietnamese students, respectively.
“Chinese students also made up 80%, of international students enrolled on South Korea’s resort island of Jeju”
About 36% of those international students on doctorate courses were majoring in engineering, 34% in humanities or social science, 18% in natural science, 8% in arts or sports and 4% in medical science.
Unlike doctoral candidates, most of those studying for a master’s degree were majoring in humanities or social science (71%).
Just 14% were majoring in engineering, 7% (respectively) in natural science, arts or sports and 1% in medical science.
This trend also applied to bachelor’s degree candidates, with 69% studying humanities or social science.
The news comes as THE released its annual rankings of Asian universities. It is a mixed outlook for South Korea, with these figures showing that the nation’s HEIs are an attractive option for mobile students from the region, and further afield. However, THE said the quality of the institutions “showed signs of waning”.
Despite this, Seoul National University and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology both made it to the top ten of the Asia-specific tally.