South Korea plans to attract 300,000 international students by 2027, a move it hopes will boost local universities’ global competitiveness and secure skilled foreign workers in high-tech industries.
Current landscape: As of June 2023, there are 207,126 international students in South Korea with D-2, D-4-1 and D-4-7 student visas, according to government data. In some universities, foreigners already make up nearly half of student populations — one in Gangwon has 400 out of 810.
How it will do it: In a plan unveiled on Wednesday, the country’s Ministry of Education said it will revise the International Education Quality Assurance System to ease requirements on the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), which will also be made available online. A task force will also create customized strategies to help international students map their studies and possible career paths in the country.
The plan also includes scholarship grants for 6,000 foreign students, 2,700 of which are under science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs. Meanwhile, those with advanced degrees in key STEM areas will be able to obtain permanent residency or naturalized citizenship in a shorter period of time.
Similar plans: South Korea’s strategy follows similar plans by other countries. In March, neighboring Japan announced that it aims to draw 400,000 international students by 2033, while France seeks 500,000 foreign students by 2027. The U.K. met its 600,000 target much earlier than its projected 2030 end date.