May 9, 2023
SEOUL – The number of international students enrolled in Korean higher education institutions hit a record high last year, data showed Sunday.
According to the data released by the Ministry of Education, there were 166,869 foreign students enrolled at domestic universities and colleges as of April 1 2022, marking an increase of 10 percent from a year earlier and exceeding pre-pandemic levels. The number of international students included those enrolled in both degree and non-degree programs, such as language courses, exchange students and visiting trainees. The number is the highest recorded since 1998, when such data was first compiled by the ministry.
Since 2015, the number of international students in Korea has been growing by around 10 percent each year. The number exceeded the 100,000 mark in 2016 for the first time and continued to rise to over 160,000 in 2019. But the number dropped to 153,676 in 2020 and 152,258 in 2021 under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rebound in the figures is not only because classes are back to full operation, but also because Korean universities have been active in recruiting international students due to the country’s declining population. Korea has an ultra-low birth rate and a rapidly aging population.
The Korean Education Ministry plans to attract more foreign students. “The ministry will take efforts to improve scholarship systems and visa issues to help the local economy by drawing talented international students,” said Education Minister Lee Ju-ho.