โ–ช๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท Korea

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Country Introduction

The official name of South Korea is the Republic of Korea (ROK). That is because its government claims to be in charge of the whole of Korea and does not recognize North Korea as separate. The ROK government is headed by a president, who is elected to a five-year term.

South Korea has one of the strongest economies in Eastern Asia. Most of its wealth comes from manufacturing and service industries, such as banking. It exports ships, cars, computers, and other electronic items.
South Korea is the world leader in internet connectivity. Approximately 95% of the countryโ€™s population are internet users, and they boast the worldโ€™s fastest average connection speed. Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea.

South Korea is the perfect study abroad destination for your degree, thanks to its higher quality of education, rich culture, budget tuition fees, and thriving student life!ย 

Education Trend in South Korea
HIGHER EDUCATION IN SOUTH KOREA

Higher education in South Korea

In South Korea, compulsory education covers six years of primary and three years of lower secondary levels. The vast majority of citizens continue to study in upper secondary schools and pursue higher education degrees afterward. General expenses for formal and informal learning in South Korea are heavily reliant on the private sector. Nevertheless, zeal for learning has led education to be a high priority for individuals and in national policies. More importantly, there is social pressure for those without any academic degrees as they are considered underqualified for nearly every occupation.

Competitiveness and social pressure

Admission to top universities in South Korea is extremely competitive since it is viewed as the ultimate marker of prestige that could secure the most admired professions and promote social mobility. To this end, South Korean students are fixated with preparation for a college scholastic ability test (CSAT) โ€œSu-neungโ€ and respective university examination. Besides the institutional reputation, the popularity of certain majors that are preferred in the labor market augments the minimum score to be admitted. Compared to the entrance, it is relatively easy to graduate from higher education institutions in South Korea.

Internationalization of higher education

South Korea has seen an overwhelming number of its talents opt to study overseas. Hence, the government has struggled to reverse the loss from the education trade and brain drain. A business district Songdo has been designated to attract colleges and universities of western country origin. They have opened several branches for international degree-seekers in South Korea. Domestic tertiary education has also called for strengthening its global competitiveness. The internationalization of South Korean campuses can be explained in this context. Higher education institutions have progressively established agreements with partners abroad for exchanges of credits, degree programs, research projects, and lecturers. Local undergraduates now can easily take English-medium courses as well as interact with foreign faculty and students from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Private tutoring

Post-secondary education is ongoing for South Korean adults. Some may want to have hobbies completely irrelevant to their expertise such as cooking, sports, and musical instruments; others would like to elaborate on their work-related abilities; the rest might be asked to learn an additional language by their employers. There are private institutes and tutoring services that fulfill the abovementioned purposes and, furthermore, instruct financial management, programming, app development, knowledge related to the fourth industrial revolution, and soft skills like business etiquette and presentation techniques. The prevalence of distance learning courses adds convenience and contributes to lifelong learning in the country as well.

Number of foreign students South Korea

In 2021, there were approximately 152 thousand foreign students studying in higher education institutions in South Korea, down from about 154 thousand in the previous year. The number of foreign students at South Korean universities has been steadily increasing in recent years, with the exception of 2020 and 2021.

Number of higher education institutions in South Korea

In 2021, South Korea had around 202 universities and 134 community colleges. Generally, a university has a four-year curriculum, and a community college has a two- or three-year curriculum for a technical training course.

Number of higher education institutions in South Korea

In 2021, South Korea had around 202 universities and 134 community colleges. Generally, a university has a four-year curriculum, and a community college has a two- or three-year curriculum for a technical training course.

Change in the number of universities

The number of universities in South Korea increased significantly until 2000 but has since gradually declined. This is largely related to the governmentโ€™s policy of university restructuring due to a decrease in the school-age population. Especially in the case of community colleges, the number has gradually decreased since 2005 as they were merged into universities run by the same corporation or reorganized into four-year universities.

Public vs. private universities

Higher education institutions in South Korea are also divided into public and private institutions. Public institutions include national universities and public universities that carry out various government-supported projects. Seoul National University, a national university located in Seoul, is one of South Koreaโ€™s most prestigious universities. In the case of private universities, university administration

is more flexible and sometimes is operated together with private companies. For example, Sungkyunkwan University was acquired by the Samsung Group.

Student-teacher ratio at universities South Korea

In 2021, there were about 22.8 students per teacher at universities in South Korea. The student-teacher ratio at South Korean universities has decreased over the years.

Number of people who have a Bachelorโ€™s degree

In 2020,
Approximately 14 million people in South Korea had a Bachelorโ€™s or equivalent level degree
.ย In comparison, approximately 7 million people in Vietnam had a Bachelorโ€™s or equivalent level degree in 2020.
Despite a significant amount of people having obtained a Bachelorโ€™s degree in Indonesia, compared to the overall population the share of those who hold a university degree is relatively low.

Key figures Universities

The most important key figures provide here with a compact summary of the topic of โ€˜Higher Education in South Koreaโ€™ and show straight to the corresponding statistics.

โ€ขย Most common class size at university

oย 21to50students

โ€ข Average time spent to graduate university

oย 51mths

โ€ข Employment rate of 4-year university graduate

oย 61%

โ€ข Unemployment rate

oย 4%

โ€ข Youth unemployment rate

oย 9%

โ€ข Average job-seeking period of young people

oย 10mthsย 

Study Abroad Investing in education

  • Annual expenditure per student on educational institutions provides an indication of the investment countries make on each student. After accounting for public-to-private transfers, public expenditure on primary to tertiary educational institutions per full- time student in Korea was USD 9 504 in 2018 (in equivalent USD converted using PPPs for GDP) compared to USD 10 000 on average across OECD countries.ย 

  • The provision of education across public and private institutions influences the allocation of resources between levels of education and types of institution. In 2018, Korea spent USD 13 794 per student at primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education, USD 3 340 higher than the OECD average of USD 10 454. At tertiary level, Korea invested USD 11 290 per student, USD 5 775 less than the OECD average. Expenditure per student on public educational institutions is higher than on private institutions on average across OECD countries. This is also the case in Korea, where total expenditure on primary to tertiary public institutions amounts to USD 14 536 per student, compared to USD 10 365 on private institutions.Across most OECD countries, socio-economic status influences learning outcomes more than gender and immigrant status. In Korea, the proportion of children from the bottom quartile of the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) achieving at least PISA level 2 in reading in 2018 was 18% lower than that of children from the top ESCS quartile, a smaller share than the OECD average of 29%.

  • The share of capital costs on total expenditure on educational institutions is higher than the OECD average at primary to tertiary level in Korea. At primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level, capital costs account for 15% of total spending on educational institutions, 7 percentage points above the OECD average (8%). At the tertiary level, capital costs represent 10%, slightly lower than the average across OECD countries of 11%.

  • Compensation of teachers and other staff employed in educational institutions represents the largest share of current expenditure from primary to tertiary education. In 2018, Korea allocated 71% of its current expenditure to staff compensation, compared to 74% on average across OECD countries. Staff compensation tends to make up a smaller share of current expenditure on tertiary institutions due to the higher costs of facilities and equipment at this level. In Korea, staff compensation represents 61% of current expenditure on tertiary institutions compared to 76% at non-tertiary levels. On average across OECD countries, the share is 68% at tertiary level and 77% at non-tertiary level.

ย Ensuring equal opportunities for students across socio-economic backgrounds

  • Socio-economic status may significantly impact studentsโ€™ participation in education, particularly at levels of education that rely, in many countries, most heavily on private expenditure, such as early childhood education and care and tertiary education. In Korea, private sources accounted for 18% of total expenditure in pre-primary institutions, slightly higher than the OECD average of 17%. At tertiary level, 60% of expenditure comes from private sources in Korea, compared to 30% on average across OECD countries.

  • Tuition fees for bachelorโ€™s Programmes at public institutions in Korea are the eighth- highest among the 27 countries with available data. National students were charged USD 4 792 per year for a bachelorโ€™s degree in 2019, which is 13% lower than they were charged on average in 2009.

  • Across most OECD countries, socio-economic status influences learning outcomes more than gender and immigrant status. In Korea, the proportion of children from the bottom quartile of the PISA index of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) achieving at least PISA level 2 in reading in 2018 was 18% lower than that of children from the top ESCS quartile, a smaller share than the OECD average of 29%.

  • International student mobility at the tertiary level has risen steadily reaching about 98 900 students in Korea and representing 3% of tertiary students in 2019. The largest share of foreign tertiary students studying in Korea comes from China. Students from low and lower-middle income countries are generally less likely to study abroad. In 2019, they represented 29% of international students in OECD countries, compared to 33% in Korea.

  • Large differences in educational attainment may lead to starker earnings inequality in many countries. In Korea, 23% of 25-64 year-old adults with below upper secondary attainment earned at or below half the median earnings in 2019, below the OECD average of 27%.

    Gender inequalities in education and outcomes

  • In Korea, a negligible percentage of students in lower and upper secondary initial education repeated a grade in 2019, compared to 1.9% and 3.0% respectively on average across OECD countries.

  • Men are more likely than women to pursue a vocational track at upper secondary level in most OECD countries. This is also the case in Korea, where 59% of upper secondary vocational graduates in 2019 were men (compared to the OECD average of 55%). Women are generally more likely to graduate from upper secondary generalย Programmes. In Korea, women represent 49% of graduates from upper secondaryย general Programmes, compared to 55% on average across OECD countries (Figure 1).

  • Tertiary education has been expanding in the last decades, and, in 2020, 25-34 year-old women were more likely than men to achieve tertiary education in allย OECD countries. In Korea, 76% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 64% of their male peers, while on average acrossย OECD countries the shares were 52% among young women and 39% among young men.

  • Gender differences in the distribution of tertiary entrants across fields of study are significant. Women tend to be under-represented in certain fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) across most OECD countries. On average, 26% of new entrants in engineering, manufacturing and construction and 20% in information and communication technologies were women in 2019. In Korea, women represented 21% of new entrants in engineering, manufacturing and construction Programmes and 27% in information and communication technologies. In contrast, they represented 76% of new entrants to the field of education, a sector traditionally dominated by women. In Korea, men represent 38% of teachers across all levels of education, compared to 30% on average across OECD countries.

  • Young women are less likely to be employed than young men, particularly those with lower levels of education. Only 48% of 25-34 year-old women with below upper secondary attainment were employed in 2020 compared to 76% of men in Korea. This gender difference is slightly larger than the average across OECD countries, where 43% of women and 69% of men with below upper secondary attainment are employed.

  • In nearly all OECD countries and at all levels of educational attainment, 25-64 year- old women earn less than their male peers: their earnings correspond to 76%-78% of menโ€™s earnings on average across OECD countries. This proportion varies more across educational attainment levels within countries than on average acrossย OECD countries. Compared to other education levels, women with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education in Korea have the lowest earnings relative to men with a similar education level, earning 70% as much, while those with below upper secondary education earn 75% as much.

  • On average across OECD countries with available data, 25-64 year-old women tend to participate slightly more in adult learning than men of the same age. In Korea, 46% of women participated in formal and/or non-formal education and training in 2016, compared to 54% of men. Family reasons were reported as barriers to participation in formal and/or non-formal education and training by 28% of women compared to 2% of men.

    Working conditions of school teachers

  • The salaries of school staff, and in particular teachers and school heads, represent the largest single expenditure in formal education. Their salary levels also have an impact on the attractiveness of the teaching profession. In most OECD countries andย economies, statutory salaries of teachers (and school heads) in public educational institutions increase with the level of education they teach, and also with experience. On average, statutory salaries of teachers with maximum qualifications at the top of their salary scales (maximum salaries) were between 86% and 91% higher than those of teachers with the minimum qualifications at the start of their career (minimum salaries) at pre-primary (ISCED 02), primary and general lower and upper secondary levels in 2020. In Korea, maximum salaries were 181% to 193% higher than minimum salaries at each level of education (Figure 4). However, most teachers were paid between these minimum and maximum salaries.

  • Between 2005 and 2020, the statutory salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications increased (at constant prices) by 2% to 3% at primary and general lower and upper secondary levels, on average across OECD countries with data for all reference years, despite a decrease of salaries following the 2008 financial crisis. In Korea, teachersโ€™ salaries at these levels increased by 10%-11%.

  • The average number of teaching hours per year required of a typical teacher in public educational institutions in OECD countries tends to decrease as the level of education increases: it ranged from 989 hours at pre-primary level (ISCED 02), to 791 hours at primary level, 723 hours at lower secondary level (general programmes) andย 685 hours at upper secondary level (general programmes) in 2020. In Korea, teachers teach 778 hours per year at pre-primary level, 680 hours per year at primary level, 513 hours at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 539 hours at upper secondary level (general programmes).

  • During their working time, teachers also perform various tasks other than teaching itself such as lesson planning and preparation, marking studentsโ€™ work and communicating or co-operating with parents or guardians. At the lower secondary level, teachers in Korea spend 34% of their statutory working time on teaching, compared to 44% on average among countries with available data.

  • In primary and secondary education, about 35% of teachers are at least 50 years old on average across OECD countries and may reach retirement age in the next decade, while the size of the school-age population is projected to increase in some countries, putting many governments under pressure to recruit and train new teachers. In 2019, 15% of primary teachers in Korea were at least 50 years old, which was lower than the OECD average of 33%. On average across OECD countries, the proportion of teachers aged at least 50 years old increases with higher levels of education taught, to 36% in lower secondary education and 40% in upper secondary education. In Korea, this proportion varies from 29% at lower secondary level to 30% at upper secondary level.