South Korea drops entry requirements, offers scholarships to international students
International students are being recruited by South Korea universities. Source:

South Korea is offering international students lowered entry requirements and generous scholarship schemes to help plug the falling enrollment rates.

Its Education Ministry announced earlier this year that international students only have to reach level two on the Test of Proficiency in Korean. This is a drop from level three or higher.

Universities themselves are also attracting international students through scholarships. Gachon University, for example, is exempting international students from acceptance fees and offering them a 40 percent scholarship for academic fees each semester if their grades are above the university’s enrollment requirements, according to The Korea Times.

Korea University also offers scholarships to cover living expenses on their A, B, C scheme for international students.

Explore South Korea’s bustling culture while you study. Source: Saveliy Bobov/

If you have a GPA of 4 and above, you are eligible for a full scholarship that covers academic and dormitory fees.

Scholarship B offers Humanities and Social Sciences students with a GPA above 3.5 a 60 percent academic scholarship, while C provides 65 percent of the tuition for Natural Science and Engineering students with a GPA of 3.5.

“Student enrollment is on the decline, while dropouts are increasing. To prevent financial difficulties we are trying to fill the gap with international students,” a spokesperson from a private university in South Jeolla Province told The Korea Times.

The number of Korean students choosing to go to university has been steadily falling for four years, according to the Education Ministry. University enrollment reached 549,000 in 2014, but that number dropped to 516,000 by 2016, shows the data.

With birth rates also remaining low and a cultural trend towards employment rather than higher education, total university enrollment could drop to 400,000 by 2023, speculates the portal.

Korean universities hope international students can offset the fall in domestic students.

Some education experts have criticised the favouring of international students over concerns that the requirements are too low.

Level two on the Test of Proficiency in Korean requires 1,500 to 2,000 Korean words, and the ability to arrange a few simple sentences.

The publication said experts believe college students need to understand a minimum of 5,000 words to be able to sufficiently gain an education in that language, causing concerns universities are prioritising income over quality education.

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