Priority Countries

South Korea  Forward Plan  Links

The economic miracle in Korea, a country which emerged from war in absolute poverty only 40 years ago, has been driven by a determined government policy to develop Korea and to join the group of advanced nations by early this century. Key elements in this strategy have been the promotion of education and strong support to the development of a solid science and technology capability to feed industry with skilled staff and competitive products.

In a society which already had a great respect for education, inherited through the Confucian tradition, it was not difficult for the government to build up the numbers receiving basic education on an increasingly competitive scale from elementary level up to degree level. Beyond first degree level, however, Koreans have looked to overseas universities for education. A series of factors have fed the Korean wish to undertake postgraduate studies overseas; the desire to acquire high level expertise to develop Korean universities, the relative prestige of a foreign postgraduate degree and finally the need to acquire technological knowledge and research experience to support Korea's future industrial development.

As Korea's fortunes improved and personal wealth increased, the highly competitive nature of local education (high school and university entry) has driven many parents and students to seek study places overseas. The market for undergraduate study, further education courses and independent schools emerged. Under President Kim Young Sam's policy of globalisation the demand for English training, overseas study and international experience exploded. Not only individuals but also companies, government departments, schools and colleges developed programmes of international study and training. This policy together with the liberalisation which accompanied Korea's membership of OECD (end 1996) also led to the opening of the market to foreign education providers. This has led to many Korean educational institutions looking to cement relationships with foreign universities to both improve the quality of their own courses and to make them more attractive to Korean students who have become increasingly interested in overseas study. Another business area which has flourished under this policy is that of the educational agent.

The economic downturn at the end of 1997 led to a dramatic slowdown of students seeking to go overseas as a result of official and public pressure to save foreign exchange and as a result of the steep devaluation of the Won which meant much higher costs overseas. Now, students are more likely to look for educational opportunities in Korea, which means that prospects for the teaching of English in Korea, partnerships with Korean institutions and the development of the Distance Learning business are particularly good at the moment. The necessary restructuring of the Korean economy has lead to a significant increase in unemployment and greater difficulty for graduates in finding jobs. An outcome of this is the need for work seekers to have competitive skills. English is one of the major skills needed but also other professional skills as employers are applying a much stricter employment policy than in the past.

It is anticipated that in the next couple of years the Korean education and training market will grow, although probably not at the same rate as before the economic difficulties. However overseas providers of educational services should use this time to position themselves in the market and to bridge the significant gap in knowledge about UK education and training. They will then be well placed to benefit from the upturn in business as the economy in Korea recovers further.

Taken from the British Council Korea Education and Training Market Plan

Scottish Education + Training Activity in South Korea

To date Scottish Education + Training have undertaken the following activity in South Korea:

  • Scottish Education + Training outward education mission, February 1998
  • Chris Brown, Assistant Director, SQA, funded to participate in Baroness Perry mission to Korea, 1998
  • Inward mission of education agents, August 1998
  • Inward mission of Korean government ministries and industry HE delegates, Sept. 1998
  • Scottish Education + Training stand at Seoul and Pusan education fairs, November 1998
  • Inward mission of Korean Junior College Principals, May 1999
  • Outward mission of Scottish FE Principals, October 1999
  • Cross-sectoral working group established
  • Production of video and brochure explaining the Scottish education system in Korean.
  • To order copies of the video or brochures visit our Marketing Material pages.

    For further information about SE+T's work in South Korea, to discuss opportunities for Scottish education providers in South Korea or to order any of the reports / documents listed below please email val.farmer@scotent.co.uk

  • South Korea Working Group-minutes of most recent meeting
  • Education Mission Report, August 1998
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