The number of Korean schoolchildren studying abroad has halved for the first time in six years. According to the Korea Educational Development Institute on Thursday, the number of Korean schoolchildren studying abroad rose from 4,397 in 2000 to peak at 29,511 in 2006 and started to decline beginning with the global financial crisis in 2008. The number fell to 14,340 in 2012, marking a 51.4 percent drop in six years.
According to statistics compiled by the Education Ministry and KEDI, the figure includes those who go overseas for one or two years to study even if they are not registered for regular academic courses. Students who move overseas due to immigration or because of their parent's jobs were not included in the tally.
The number of elementary schoolchildren who study abroad, which accounted for the largest share of the group, rose to 13,814 in 2006, but fell to 6,061 in 2012. The number of junior high school students in this category fell from 9,246 in 2006 to 4,977 in 2012, while the number of high school students fell from 6,451 to 3,302. Experts cited the decline to the ongoing economic slump and a growing awareness among parents that studying overseas no longer translates into a leg up when it comes to landing good jobs in Korea.
One consultant with a company that helps parents send their kids abroad for study said, "In the past, office workers were enthusiastic about saving up to send their children to study abroad in order to get them admitted to a prestigious university later in Korea using privileges in enrollment for foreign-educated applicants and to guarantee them good jobs, but nowadays, only wealthy businesspeople and professionals send their kids overseas."
H added, "Sending young kids to study abroad often makes it harder for them to adjust to Korean schools later, and parents know that speaking English well is no longer a plus in getting good jobs."