Aspiring Korean Pharmacists Head Overseas to Study

  • By Choi Eun-kyung

    December 18, 2023 08:19

    A growing number of Korean students are heading overseas to study competitive subjects where the quota makes it unlikely they will gain admission at home.
    One example is pharmacy, where competition has dramatically intensified here. Korean universities will accept only 1,743 pharmacy students next year, which is even fewer than the medical-school quota of 3,058. That is driving more and more students abroad.
    Graduates from overseas can apply for a Korean pharmacy license as long as their degree is recognized by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
    According to the Korea Health Personnel Licensing Examination Institute, 453 Koreans graduated in pharmacy abroad and passed the license exam here from 2014 to 2023. The number stood at only four in 2010, but rose to 103 in 2020.
    In 2021, rules were toughened to require such students to pass a preliminary test before they can sit the license exam, which meant that only 19 got their license in 2021, but that also rose to 35 last year.
    A study-in-Japan fair bustles with visitors in Seoul on Dec. 9.
    The U.S. and Japan are the most popular destinations. In 2022, 10 people with a degree from the U.S. passed the exam, while four studied in Japan. Regional universities in Japan in Chiba, Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Nagasaki, Prefecture and Tokushima, and have been rolling up their sleeves to attract Korean students.
    "Japan has trouble recruiting students due to the declining population. In the past, pharmacy was popular, but now regional universities have to recruit foreign students who are willing to pay tuition," a pharmacy professor at a Japanese university said.
    In Japan the admission quota remains 12,000, seven times more than Korea’s. One staffer at a study-abroad consultancy said, "In Korea, competition is fierce to get into medical or pharmacy schools, but universities overseas are facing a shortage of applicants, so the trend is expected to continue."
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