The number of South Koreans studying in China more than tripled to 62,855 last year from 18,267 in 2003, underlining a growing trend between the two Asian economies.
According to the South Korea’s Ministry of Education data, the current figure accounts for 26% of all South Koreans registered at foreign universities, closely following the US, which attracted 31%.
Although US remains the top choice for most South Korean students—US universities saw a 50% increase to 73,351 from 2003—Chinese education is appealing to undergraduates seeking to boost their prospective in an increasingly competitive employment market.
Korean employers are increasingly looking for graduates with experience in China, Asia’s largest economy and an important trading partner.
“It’s only the beginning in the shift in Korea’s appetite for education toward China from the US,” said Cho Jin Pyou, CEO of Seoul-based Wise Mentor, which provides education and career-path advice. “A flood of Korean students will follow companies going to China for jobs.”
A good grasp of the Chinese language, seen as advantage in South Korea’s job market, is also driving the influx of South Korean students. This also mirrors the expanding ties between the two nations, Bloomberg said.
“English has become such a common product now here that it can no longer guarantee a decent job,” said Cho.
“Studying in China offers another language skill and human network, a qualification that sells well to companies expanding their Asia businesses.”
In addition, Chinese tuition fees are more affordable than any other foreign education. An undergraduate study in China costs $3,500 a year, according to China’s University and College Admissions System.