Written by Alyssa Walker

Good news for South Korea: international student numbers increased by over 19 percent in the past year. The National Institute for International Education under the education ministry reports that the number exploded to 142,205 in April from 123,850 in 2017. This is compared to 12,000 international students 15 years ago.

According to the Yonhap News Agency, most of those students come from China, which accounted for 48.2 percent of the total. This is a decrease from 2010, when the percentage of Chinese students studying in South Korea reached a record high of 71 percent. 

Other countries contributed to the surge in international enrollment. Vietnamese students comprised 19 percent of the overall total with 27,061 students, followed by Mongolia at 6,768, Japan at 3,977, and the US at 2,746.

This spike in enrollments has also caused an increase in those who overstay their visas. 

Recent government reports showed that students staying on illegally after their student visas expire increased from 5,652 to 11,176 last year, an increase of almost 98 percent.

Kim Hae-Young of the ruling Democratic Party said, "Many [Korean] universities now seek to bring in more international students as the number of Korean students keeps dropping. But it seems like they should introduce programs to support international students after they get their degrees in Korea."

Kim explained that while South Korea wants to welcome international students to its universities, they do not want to encourage breaches in immigration rules.

Learn more about studying in South Korea here



Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.
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