Subject : Foreign schools to get greater freedom

DATE. 2009-05-18 오후 7:14:57 Visit. 1570

The government yesterday announced measures to ease regulations on foreign schools and attract more foreign students to Korea as part of a broader initiative to advance the country''s service sector.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said it will allow foreign schools to admit more Korean students.

Currently, Korean nationals cannot exceed 30 percent of all students attending a foreign school. The ministry seeks to "temporarily" allow schools to fill up 30 percent of their nominal student quota with Korean students.

The ministry is seeking to revise related laws by August, officials said.

Songdo International School, which is scheduled to open in the Incheon Free Economic Zone in September, has had difficulty opening here due to a lack of foreign students.

The ministry also seeks to enable foreign schools to remit their surpluses overseas and handle their financial matters according to the accounting regulations of their own countries.

The ban on the overseas remittances has discouraged many of the schools from opting to open in Korea. Currently, many countries, including Japan, Singapore, Qatar and Dubai, allow overseas remittances.

The ministry also seeks to loosen requirements for the establishment of foreign schools, such as one related to the size of a school building.

Currently, a college building is required to have the capacity of accommodating at least 1,000 students, but such requirements will be eased, officials explained.

To attract more foreign students, particularly those from Asian countries, the ministry plans to run various educational exchange programs and ameliorate studying and living conditions for foreign students.

The government plans to increase the percentage of the classes taught in English at national universities to 5 percent in 2012 from 3.2 percent last year. It also plans to increase the percentage of foreign students accommodated in school dormitories up to 60 percent.

The government also plans to develop systems through which universities in Korea, Japan and China can exchange their students and share curriculums.

It also plans to enhance the government''s website, designed to give foreign students information on Korean education. The website ( currently provides translation services in 10 languages, including English, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish. Translation services in four more languages will be offered, the ministry said.

The number of foreign students in Korea has steadily increased from 22,526 in 2005 to 32,557 in 2006, 49,270 in 2007 and 63,952 in 2008.

By Song Sang-ho