The ratio of CEOs at Korea's top 1,000 companies who graduated from the nation's top three universities has fallen to below 40 percent for the first time since such statistics began in 2007.
According to a survey by head-hunters Unico Search, 39.5 percent of the CEOs in Korea's 1,000 largest companies in terms of sales were graduates of Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea universities. In 2007, the proportion was 59.7 percent.
The companies surveyed had a total of 1,271 CEOs. "In the past, the trend was to appoint CEOs who graduated from prestigious universities," said Han Sang-shin at Unico Search. "But recently, we've been seeing a trend favoring talented executives with experience and solid track records."
Han said this trend is also directly and indirectly affecting the choice of lower-ranking executives and even regular staff.
The largest group of CEOs in the nation's top companies continued to be graduates of SNU with 259 or 20.4 percent, followed by Korea University with 125 or 9.8 percent and Yonsei University with 118 or 9.3 percent.
The number of CEOs from SNU was larger than those from Korea University and Yonsei University combined.
Next were graduates of Hanyang University with 90 and Sungkyunkwan University with 50.
The proportion of CEOs with science or engineering backgrounds stood at 45.3 percent this year, compared to 43 percent in 2010. CEOs with business administration degrees accounted for 20.7 percent, followed by those with economics backgrounds at 7 percent. Next were mechanical engineering (5.5 percent), chemical engineering (4.6 percent) and electronic engineering (4.5 percent).