Study in South Korea

Study in South Korea figures

South Korea is one of the top Asian countries for study, with 13 South Korean institutions in Time Higher Education Rankings of the top 100 Asian universities in 2015. Such positive statistics has just filtered out to foreigners recently, but myths of the dark side of the HE system in South Korea have long been perpetuated in the West. Our imagination of South Korean education seems fixated on ultracompetitive university entrance exams, overachieving students and tiger moms. For many British students looking into educational opportunities in South Korea, the concern over fierce competition and intense workload overrides the excitement of going abroad.

We all know the major difficulties facing international students in South Korea. There's no doubt that you need to work hard from day 1 because the first year counts toward your degree. It also takes a lot of effort to thrive in a cohort of Korean classmates who are so used to pressure and high expectations. Moreover, while it’s possible to only English-taught courses at university, you can’t enjoy the life outside of university without speaking the local language. Learning Korean could be very challenging if you never learnt a language with a different alphabet before.

It’s important to be aware of these issues, but they shouldn’t be the sole factors that affect your decision of whether to study abroad in South Korea. As in any other country, the HE system in South Korea has problems but also opportunities. So what are the opportunities for British students?

South Korean universities offer over 70 English-taught undergraduate programmes where Korean proficiency is not required.

Korean is not commonly taught at schools in the UK, so you might find yourself in the situation where you really want to go to university in South Korea, but you are put off because of language skills. The good news is we have identified and listed on our website more than 70 Bachelor’s degree programmes taught entirely in English in South Korea. British students can enrol in these programmes without any knowledge of Korean. Moreover, all of your lectures and exams will be in English. In this case, you should apply through a separate admission track for international students who don’t speak Korean.

If you speak Korean good enough to have TOPIK level 4, you are eligible for the regular admission at the majority of South Korean universities. Some universities offer hundreds of courses in English, so it’s possible that you only need to complete a small number of credits in Korean to graduate.

South Korea has a diversified educational system with many types of institutions, but English-taught degrees are only available at three national universities and nine private universities. National universities are established and run by the Korean Government. Private universities are established and run by incorporated educational institutions, some of which are associated with religions such as Confucianism (Sungkyunkwan University) and Christianity (Chung Ang University and Yonsei University). There is no substantial difference between these two types of institutions in terms of quality of education and facilities. However, national universities are most well-known for research activities, while private institutions are recognised for strong connections with the industry. Therefore, your choice of university should be based on your career ambitions

South Korean universities are strong in Engineering and Computing Science.

40% of English-taught undergraduate programmes at South Korean universities are in engineering and computing Science. This reflects the structure of the South Korean economy where automobile and construction are among the strongest sectors. The majority of engineering and computing science courses are on offer at UNIST and KAIST, two of the four public universities in South Korea which are dedicated to research in science and technology. Especially, KAIST is placed 148 in The Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2015-16.

Business, international relations and media studies are also commonly taught in English at undergraduate level. Undergraduate programmes covering these subjects will give you a strong understanding of the business, political and cultural landscape of Asia, a valuable asset wherever you end up working.

South Korean universities are not too expensive to attend, and they offer very generous scholarships for international students.

The 2016/17 tuition fees for English-taught programmes at South Korean universities vary from £2,000 to £8,500. Moreover, 80% of English-taught degrees are offered at universities outside Seoul. These factors make studying in South Korea a relatively affordable option. In fact, statistics from Numbeo shows that living costs in South Korea, excluding rent, is 4.87% lower than in the UK. More impressively, the average rent in South Korea is 8.61% lower than in the UK.

International students benefit from a range of generous scholarship schemes of South Korean universities, such as UNIST, Handong Global University, Keimyung University and Hannam University. Especially, all foreign students enrolling at UNIST receive a full tuition scholarship in the first semester, as well as a one-time financial aid of £300 upon arrival.

Universities in South Korea

About A Star Future

A Star Future provides information and guidance to British students looking to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad.

Through our presentations in schools and our websites we aim to ensure that British-educated students are well informed about their choices.