Number of South Korean students abroad drops by 41%

The research found that as of December 2020, the number of Korean students studying abroad was 171,343. By comparison this number was 293,157, recorded at the end of 2018. 

“The number of South Koreans studying abroad in 2020 decreased by around 41% compared to 2018”

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports the status of Koreans as of the end of the previous year through diplomatic missions abroad every odd-numbered year.

The numbers are calculated using official statistics such as the population census, immigration data, direct surveys by diplomatic missions, overseas national registers, and data from compatriots’ organisations. 

South Korea is an important international student source market, with thousands of students leaving the country to study abroad each year.

Data from Open Doors, showed that there were 39,491 students from South Korea studying in the US in the 2020/21 academic year. 

This was down 20.7% compared with the 2019/20 academic year where there were 49,809 studying in the country. 

South Korea has also been noted as a potential source for students for the UK by Universities UK International.

A report last year argued that the UK needs to reduce financial barriers for international students by creating more diverse and innovative funding opportunities, while also supporting the improvement of English language ability. The report said that South Korea would be a key market for the UK to develop its position. 

UUKi said that awareness of the UK as a study destination is low in South Korea and that the UK’s International Education champion Steve Smith and UK government should lead “promotional delegations that have media and student-facing activities at the heart, including promotion of the Graduate route”. 

The numbers of international students from South Korea in the UK actually increased slightly in 2020, according to data from HESA – going from 5,630 in 2018/19 to 5,780 in 2019/20.

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