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Higher education in South Korea - statistics & facts

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) "Su-neung" 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.


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