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Korean overseas student spending down 14% in 9-year low

Spending by South Korean students studying abroad has hit a nine-year low after falling 14% in the last year to US$3.702bn as the number of outbound international students has continued to fall.

Seongdong District, Seoul. Photo: taylorandayumi.

The number of Korean students heading overseas fell by 3.3% in the year to April 2014

Overseas spending by Korean students, including those travelling abroad on exchanges and for language study, is down $1.3bn since its pre-financial crisis peak in 2007, according to new research published by the Bank of Korea.

The number of Korean students coming into the UK has halved in the last three years

Outbound Korean student numbers fell by 3.3% in the year to April 2014, Ministry of Education statistics show, making it the third consecutive year outbound numbers have fallen.

The number of Koreans students coming into the UK has halved in the last three years, while the number going to Australia dropped by nearly a quarter to 14,139 in the same period.

Meanwhile, the number heading to the US – the most popular destination for Korean students abroad – fell from 72,295 in 2013 to 70,628 in 2014.

Education New Zealand recently published its own data on incoming international students, which showed falling Korean numbers across all sectors of New Zealand’s education industry, despite notable increases from other markets.

The statistics were part of a global trend, John Goulter, Acting Chief Executive of ENZ, told The PIE News,driven by in-country socio-economic factors which have impacted on the number of Korean students studying abroad”.

There is a significant financial incentive to encourage students to stay in-country, with Ministry of Education officials citing a $4bn deficit caused by university students opting to study abroad

A declining birth rate and a shrinking middle class, a drive by the Korean government to retain students and expand the delivery of education domestically, and Korea’s desire to become a globally competitive education destination, particularly for ELT, have all contributed to the decline in outbound students, he said.

Last year the Ministry of Education announced plans to create an international education hub in Seoul’s Songdo district, along with a raft of measures to open up the market to foreign investors, and is also developing Jeju Education City, an English language teaching hub on the country’s southernmost island.

There is a significant financial incentive to encourage students to stay in-country, with ministry officials citing a $4bn deficit caused by the high proportion of university students opting to pursue their studies abroad.

Despite falling figures overall, the Philippines saw a jump of 52% in incoming Korean students to 7073, probably due to the low cost of study, though this figure is still less than a tenth of the number that went to the US in the same year.

“The Korean economy is not good, so students decreased overall,” a Ministry of Education official said in a statement. “However, in relatively low-cost Southeast Asian countries, student demand is up.”

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