Over the last twenty years or so, South Korea has gone through a series of reforms in relation to its education system. Class sizes have been extended and school hours lengthened to meet the increasing demand for improved education.
At the present time approximately 86% of young people in Korea embark on a period of higher education study. This is primarily due to the increase in early education between 1975 and 1990 which has resulted in the growth that you see today, particularly in relation to university education. These changes have resulted from economic growth, increasing value placed on a good education, government policies and general attitudes that now promote educational attainment.
South Korean citizens spend one of the highest amounts on education, at approximately 8% per GDP, and many families spend as much as 10% of their income on private tuition. As a result competition for university places is tough. While these are positive signs, there is an increasing amount of dissatisfaction with the way in which students are admitted to university. Many parents are unhappy with having to invest so much simply to get their children through the university entrance examination.
Although competition to join university was high, a quarter of graduates under the age of 30 remained unemployed.
Programs of Study
South Korea has a range of study options available to students. Undergraduate courses typically last four years. When compared with countries such as the UK, US and Canada, Korea has lower tuition fees and general living costs. Furthermore, international students do not have to pay higher fees and there are numerous scholarship programs to assist from a financial perspective.
Recently, the Korean government have announced a significant support package for overseas students offering scholarships, provisions for accommodation, part time jobs and most importantly, employment once students graduate.
Upon entry to university in Korea, international students will have to provide sufficient evidence that they can fund their tuition fees as well as living expenses and accommodation during the course of their study.
In terms of society in general, South Korea is a safe country, although the usual crimes, theft, assault and burglary do occur in some cities. Security is strict in Korea so crime is rare.
Education in South Korea is certainly improving and with a low cost of living and broad range of courses to choose from, it is growing as a popular student destination to live, work and study.