Updated June. 22, 2009 08:44
Thirteen percent of the estimated 60,444 Chinese students in Korea are in the country illegally, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
As of April 30, Chinese students accounted for 77.7 percent of the estimated 77,743 foreign students in Korea from 130 countries. Mongolia was a distance second with 3,152 students, Vietnam third with 2,096, Japan fourth with 1,827, and the United States fifth with 1,101.
The number of foreign students excluding those from China shot up 270 percent from 6,350 in 2004 to 17,299 in April this year. That of Chinese students, however, rose 550 percent over the same period from 10,988 to 60,444.
The rapid influx of Chinese students has also led to a rise in illegal aliens among them. The ministry said the number of Chinese students who overstay their visas, including the D-2 visa for studying abroad and the D-4 for training, skyrocketed 11.7 fold from 685 to 7,999 over the same period.
The percentage of Chinese students staying illegally in the country grew from 6.23 percent in 2004 to 13.23 percent in April.
The increase in the numbers of both legal and illegal Chinese students in Korea is attributed to the growing popularity of Korean universities among Chinese people. Another reason is that the schools are recruiting Chinese students to make up for the decline in the number of Korean freshmen stemming from a fall in college-age students.
Universities are not bound by official entrance quotas in recruiting foreign students.
A number of Chinese youths also enter Korean universities to get jobs illegally.
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry in Seoul surveyed 370 universities nationwide on foreign students and issued corrective orders to 22 of them found to have problems with the students. Of the 22 universities, 12 had severe problems, with 75 to 94 percent of their foreign students dropping out of school as of December last year.
Hah Hye-soo, a political science professor at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, said, Universities should focus on strengthening entrance requirements to increase competitiveness, rather than accepting foreign students to overcome their financial difficulties.