Visa Crunch

Korean Universities Face One-Year Restriction On Admitting New International Students

After the authorities discovered proof of numerous students overstaying their visas after completing their courses, several colleges in Korea are reportedly facing a one-year ban on recruiting international students.

According to government data, thousands of unauthorised immigrants in Korea previously came to the country as overseas students. As per The Korean Times, many were pursuing academic or language programmes.

To prevent this, the government has prohibited 18 colleges from accepting foreign students to their degree programmes, including the University of Suwon, Yong In University, and Jeonju University.

An additional 19 schools, including Hanshin University, Chosun University, and Daejin University, have been barred from admitting first-year students to Korean language programmes. The verdict is viewed as an “excessively punitive penalty” by these Korean colleges. The pandemic has exacerbated this, making it more difficult for universities to keep track of their students.

Many Korean universities are concerned that the new regulation would have serious financial consequences South Korea’s birth rate has been declining, reaching a record low of only 260,500 births in 2021, a 4.3 per cent decline from 2020.

In contrast, the country experienced approximately 317,800 deaths last year, resulting in a 57,300 population decline. As a result, colleges have relied on international student recruiting to make up for a lack of domestic students. Many of these organisations may face major financial ramifications as a result of the abrupt cut-off, especially with dwindling government backing.

This is not the first time the Korean government has prohibited institutions from recruiting international students. Universities are subject to an annual government evaluation, and if they are found to have a significant number of illegal student visa overstayers, they are barred from accepting international students. The government blacklisted 11 “sub-standard” colleges in 2012, including those that allowed international students to circumvent immigration restrictions, while others admitted an increasing number of overseas students without following regular admissions procedures.

One university identified 17 of its 35 first-year international students as illegal immigrants. However, this comes at the expense of reduced government funding. Last year, 52 universities were barred from participating in the 2022-2024 General Financial Support Fund, dealing a significant blow to institutions that were already struggling owing to poor income and student recruitment. Some were edged out by 0.1 to 0.2 points.

Some education officials assume political agendas are at work, although no confirmation has been provided. Universities are considering tuition increases if the ministry does not broaden its financial allocation. Over the years, South Korea has seen a significant increase in unauthorised immigrants; the epidemic has exacerbated these figures.

According to the Korea Times, 2,833 foreigners who entered Korea on D-2 student visas overstayed in 2019, with this number expected to rise to 4,692 in 2021 and 6,294 in 2021. Students come to South Korea for a variety of reasons.

For some, the idea of a top-ranked education is less important than access to the local employment market. Students from developing nations, in particular, earn far more in South Korea than they do at home. For example, the hourly minimum pay is 7,350 won ($6.84 USD), which is more than five times the amount received in Vietnam and twice the average in China.

Several students prefer to work part-time in Korea to support their families back home; many are tempted to overstay their visas in order to maintain the same level of income. Universities have encouraged the government to put in place a system to track unauthorised immigrants who were former international students.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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