The careless recruitment of Chinese students at South Korean universities has obstructed attempts to globalise local campuses by preventing them from admitting a diverse international student population.

Sector professionals believe the region’s colleges and universities have been blindly recruiting Chinese students as cash cows without first establishing guidelines to cater for their needs or provide quality assurance.

In the majority of South Korean universities, Chinese students make up more than 50 percent of the total international student body. The excessively unbalanced proportion has a detrimental effect on diversity, and causes conflict between domestic students and their foreign counterparts, The Korea Times reports.

The newspaper states that five universities in Seoul, the nation’s capital, boast the largest number of Chinese nationals, accounting for approximately 85 percent of the total international student population.

In 2015, Kyung Hee University played host to 2,662 Chinese students – the highest number of all South Korean universities, representing 65 percent of the institution’s total foreign student cohort (4,098).

With a total of 2,189 (78.7 percent) Chinese students, Dongguk University ranked second, followed by Konkuk University with a population of 2,182 (85.4 percent) Chinese students, then Korea University with 2,151 (53.5 percent),  and finally Sungkyunkwan University with 1,856 (60.8 percent).

According to The Korea Times, 147 South Korean universities have enrolled more Chinese students than they have international students from any other nation, with the number leaping to 540 when two-year colleges and graduate schools are included in the quota.

Education professionals in the region have criticised local institutions for going too far in their attempts to entice Chinese students without first setting the bar for academic ability or Korean language proficiency. Failure to adhere to set academic standards suggests the schools may already have enrolled students who are not yet qualified to study at this level, and that institutions may have exploited the current lack of restriction on overseas student recruitment.

As a result, a lot Chinese nationals are finding it difficult to adjust to life in South Korea, with many reporting that universities have failed to implement sufficient student support services. Government data notes that last year, 1,941 Chinese students were forced to drop out of their host institutions as a result of poor performance, amounting to 46 percent of the total 3,617 international student drop outs.

“A lot of Chinese students have grudges against Korean universities’ irresponsible admissions policy,” a spokesman from a Seoul-based university told The Korea Times.

“Some of them even come to harbour anti-Korean sentiment after studying at local universities,” he said.

The Ministry of Education’s target to attract 200,000 overseas students by 2020, which was initially set to encourage diversity and globalisation, as well as to boost international competitiveness among South Korean institutions, have resulted in the widespread reckless drive of students hailing from China.

“Although the education ministry has strongly encouraged universities to invite as many foreign students as possible by allowing us to recruit with no limitations, not many universities are prepared to take care of them and provide quality education for them,” the spokesman concludes.

Image via Flickr.

Liked this? Then you’ll love these…

South Korea: Gov’t promotes overseas expansion in higher education

Outbound growth among Chinese students slows as returnee numbers rise