From Orientation to Graduation,
The Global Service Center Supports International Students
One of Korea University's strong points is that it systematically provides support for international students, based on the seamless connections amongst the International Admissions Team, the Institute for Global Education, the Division of International Studies, and the Global Service Center. That is the secret behind how the university has earned its global reputation as a place where students want to go for their studies abroad.
The International Admissions Team works hard to attract excellent students from various countries by participating in overseas education expos, hosting university fairs, visiting major high schools in other countries, and running student invitation programs. The team also adjusts the selection quotas for each department or division in order to maintain a balance between the number of student applications among the various departments. In addition, it has a strict verification process for documents received from applicants, in terms of their academic abilities and language competencies.
The Global Service Center was established in 2016 to accommodate the increasing number of international students on campus. Previously, it was relatively difficult for international students to access the kind of information or practical know-how which was imparted to domestic students by their seniors or circulated within departments. To address this issue, the university opened the center to provide a one-stop, integrated campus-life service to international students, taking care of their concerns and questions at every step, from the admission process to graduation.
The Orientation Week is one of the programs which is focused on new students. Unlike the orientation programs provided by other universities, the Orientation Week at Korea University lasts 10 to 12 days, offering a chance for freshmen to become fully prepared for their college life in Korea. During the Week, international students can access necessary information, ranging from the practicalities of course registration and banking, to housing and immigration advice. There is also an etiquette course provided, which teaches them about acceptable behavior in terms of human rights and gender equality on campus. By helping international students to successfully adapt to the university and to Korean culture at an earlier stage of their stay and to focus on their studies with more ease, the Orientation Week is representative of the global service Korea University offers.
Intensive Korean Language Course for International Students
Lack of Korean Language Competence Linked to Restrictions on Course Registration
The language barrier is one of the most significant issues for international students, a central factor in their success or failure in studying abroad programs. At Korea University, there has been a growing concern that as more international students have come to study, the number of students who lack competency in the Korean language has also increased. In order to enhance the Korean language levels of its international students, KU opened the Institute for Global Education in March, 2017, and in the 2nd semester of that year, started the Intensive Korean Language Course, which was designed especially for international students. It is mandatory for those whose Korean language competence is below a certain level set by the institute to take the course. Depending on their Korean language levels, international students may be subject to restrictions on which major courses they can take.
After having run for a semester, it is clear that the Korean language course has had a very positive impact on the Korean language competence of international students. According to statistics provided by the Institute for Global Education, in the 1st semester of 2018, the ratio of international students who met the minimum linguistic standard for major course registration has increased by 30.9%; from 47.7% (as of March 6, 2018 when they had just entered the university) to 78.6% (as of July 11, 2018 when the spring semester had ended). The minimum standard for major course registration is TOPIK level 5 or the completion of the Level 5 course at the KU Korean Language Center.
Some international students experience difficulty in following lectures in natural sciences and engineering, because their high school mathematics or physics classes in their home countries were conducted at a different level. For them, Korea University offers a free course called ‘The Basic Natural Sciences and Engineering Program.’ Along with the program, there is also a supplementary course for those who lack a basic knowledge of mathematics. This course is comprised of two-hour basic mathematics classes held twice a week, and includes a mentoring service through which course participants can ask questions about what they learn in their regular courses. These specially-designed programs have been a great help to international students in dramatically increasing their understanding of their regular coursework at Korea University.
In addition, during the university vacations, a free Korean language course is offered so that international students can hone their Korean skills without feeling financially burdened. The university also has a language exchange program for Korean and international students, called LTE (the Learning by Teaching Experience) program. The program participants can refine their communication skills in foreign languages while teaching their mother tongues to their partners. Especially for international students, this program has been very useful, as they can increase their understanding of the Korean language and of Korean culture in a more natural setting than is the case in the classroom.
A Variety of Scholarships
Offered to International Students
The Division of International Studies at Korea University offers the Global Korean Studies (GKS) course, to which only foreign students can apply. The GKS is an interdisciplinary course jointly designed and run by multiple departments, namely: the Department of Korean Language and Literature, the Department of Sociology, the Department of Korean History, the Department of Business Administration, the Department of Political Science and International Relations, the Department of Economics, and the School of Media and Communication. A bachelor’s degree in Korean Studies is conferred upon completion of the program.
Korea University also offers a wide range of scholarships to international students, in order to provide stability to their lives in Korea. For those with superior grades, either all tuition fees or half of them, including admission fees, are provided by the university. Aside from the merit scholarship, the university has also developed various scholarships for talented students from other countries such as the KU Global Friends scholarship for graduates from prestigious high schools in Northeast Asia, a scholarship for ethnic Korean students living in China who have demonstrated outstanding performance, and a scholarship for high-achieving students from Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.
With the Office of International Affairs as a focal point, various departments and offices on campus have been closely cooperating with each other, increasing international students’ level of satisfaction with their campus life, and setting an example of how to run optimal programs for international students. This is why Korea University has seen a massive surge in the number of international students who register every year.