July 15, 2016 08:27
The falling birthrate is starting to manifest itself in falling student numbers at universities and colleges, which will need to adapt to smaller classes and raise their game.
They are expected to admit about 510,000 students for the academic year 2017 out of some 520,000 applicants who want to go to college, the Education Ministry estimates. Only four years ago the quota was 560,000, and dwindling numbers will fall short of the student quota from academic year 2019, and by 2023 there will be about 110,000 fewer freshmen than there are places.
Korea has 386 colleges and universities, including vocational colleges and cyber-colleges, according to the ministry.
Some 630,000 students born in 1998 are supposed to take their college entrance exams this year, but around 110,000 will either fail or not want to go to college. The student population is expected to dwindle fast to 470,000 in 2020 and 400,000 in 2023, the ministry predicts.
The government will have to make good on its perpetual promises to reform universities and colleges and close failing private institutions once and for all in the face of dwindling numbers.
If nothing is done they will gradually wither and die and in the meantime provide substandard education to half-empty classrooms.
The ministry plans to adjust the quota step by step as numbers shrink.
But Statistics Korea estimates that by academic year 2030 only 220 universities and colleges will be needed, a mere 56 percent of the current number. That means more than 160 will have to close over the next 14 years
But that number includes many degree mills and vanity colleges set up by regional worthies, which will be no great loss to the educational landscape.
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