Extra! Korea

May 12, 2009

How expensive are Korean universities?

Filed under: education — extrakorea @ 2:25 pm

So how much do Korean parents have to pay to send their kids on a four-year vacation to a Korean university? According to the Chosun Ilbo, annual tuition at the most expensive one, Seoul National University, costs W6.087 million per year. However, according to the Korea Times, Yeungnam University’s Daegu campus charged the most for tuition, costing 10.4 million won ($8,424) per year.
I don’t understand how there can be such disparity between these two reports. The only thing that even remotely approached an explanation that I was able to find came from the Time’s piece.

“I want to know the rate of tuition increase by each department of universities, but it doesn’t give the information,” said a parent whose children are attending secondary schools.

“Students want to compare the tuition of the department they belong to, with those of other universities. But the system shows only the average tuition for each university. We need to know more details,” said Park Myung-hee, president of the students council at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul.

The center admitted that more details are necessary. “We don’t have system to compare tuition average of each university by department. It is because universities use different names for different departments, although students may learn the same thing. For example, some universities use the name business and trade department, while some call it international trade department,” said Yang Soo-young of the center.

And in the Chosun’s article there was some indication as to why they’re so expensive (and yet give so little value for the money).

A ministry official said, “Under the current revenue structure, the country’s private universities have to rely on tuition fees for 65 to 80 percent of their funding.” At American universities, the rate hovers between 30 and 50 percent.

Most of the government’s education budget is concentrated on elementary and secondary schools. Korea’s education budget is a mere 5 percent of GDP and its support for universities accounts for a negligible 0.6 percent of GDP.

So “[m]ost of the government’s education budget is concentrated on elementary and secondary schools” and yet Korea has the largest class sizes in the entire OECD.


  1. It would be nice if it weren’t so expensive, but a lot of kids do live at home, with relatives, or in cheap student-oriented housing, and they can get some serious coin with private tutoring. In the end, I don’t think it’s so bad, especially if the schools are actually using the money to improve the schools further.

    I paid 4 million per month for grad school in 2004, and while I would have loved if it were free, I don’t think it was too terribly expensive. I just hope Korean schools never get to the point of private schools in America. That would be a bad thing.

    Comment by kushibo — May 12, 2009 @ 8:57 pm

  2. […] And last but not least, more information on the cost of studying in Korea at Extra! Korea here, and part and parcel of the primarily financial and not cultural reasons that Koreans adults live […]

    Pingback by Korean Feminist Reader: May 18 2009 (Updated) « The Grand Narrative — May 19, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

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