Record-Low Numbers to Take University Entrance Exam

  • By Kwak Soo-keun

    September 22, 2020 11:11

    The number of candidates for the university entrance exam on Dec. 3 declined 10.1 percent from last year to just 493,433, the fewest on record.

    The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation on Monday said this is the first time in the exam's 26-year history that the number of applicants has dropped below 500,000. It is also the first time that it is lower than the university entrance quota for next year of 509,573 students.

    The reason for the trend is the dwindling number of youngsters due to the low birthrate and a glut of places at below-par private universities.

    High-school seniors sit a test in a school in Seoul on Sept.16 to prepare for the university entrance exam in December. /Newsis

    The number of applicants peaked at 896,122 in 2000 and has been declining ever since. Candidates have dwindled by more 100,000 annually, and next year only 346,673 are expected to apply.

    The decline has resulted in a higher proportion retaking the exam. This year 27 percent of applicants are re-sitting the test after failing last year, the highest in 17 years.

    Many minor universities will be unable to meet their enrollment quotas.

    Many degree mills are already suffering a sharp drop in earnings due to dwindling foreign students amid the coronavirus epidemic, and their situation will only get worse. Some of the lowest-ranked and least well-funded are expected to go out of business, saving the government the headache of closing them down.

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