British universities reach out to South Korean students in Incheon

Nottingham University / Courtesy of Jacob Lotinga

By Jacob Lotinga

Nottingham, UK — Representatives of Nottingham University and three other British universities are preparing to reach out to South Korean high schools in Incheon this month.

The 2017 East Asia Regional Institute will bring universities from around the world together with South Korean high schools from August 13 to 15 at the University of Utah’s Asia campus.

This is the first time the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) will offer a regional institute in South Korea. Event program manager Lucien Giordano said IACAC was “ecstatic” about hosting it in South Korea.

“It is a great opportunity to learn firsthand from over 40 universities representing over a dozen countries.”

British universities may find themselves outnumbered by the 22 U.S. universities expected to attend.

Jeremy Burgess, deputy director of student recruitment at Nottingham University, said he was “super-excited” about his first visit to South Korea.

Burgess, who will give two presentations at the Incheon event, said: “Part of the joy of this job is that you get to travel and be exposed to different cultures.”

Burgess praised South Korean students’ contribution to British university life: “Having people from a diverse range of backgrounds helps to cultivate the intellectual landscape.”

Nottingham University has a well-established exchange agreement with Seoul’s Korea University.

Jessica Reeves, the senior international relations manager who leads on South Korea, said students from Yonsei, Ewha and Sookmyung universities sometimes came to Nottingham for a semester or a year.

“One of the most popular subjects for Korean students is creative arts and creative subjects,” Reeves said.

The University of the Arts, London, is Britain’s leading recruiter of South Korean students, according to the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA ), Burgess said, while Nottingham University ranks 19th.

But the 2016-17 academic year saw 25 Korean students enrolled at Nottingham, a rise on the previous year.

Reeves said South Korean students at Nottingham University were studying subjects including economics, sociology and education.

She said Nottingham University student Gang Hye-rim had started a Korean-language blog on Naver, South Korea’s biggest portal, while serving as a university intern.

Reeves said the blog provided “a student’s perspective on Nottingham life,” mixing academic and fun content, and contrasting British and South Korean office life.

Shin Gyong-gu, former dean of the international office at Chonnam National University (2008-12), said South Korean students had a “clear preference” for U.S. universities.

But he said South Korean students were too “narrowly oriented” toward America and might learn more from European and British universities.

Reeves, who has visited South Korea twice annually for three-and-a-half years, said: “I’ve had a fantastic experience working in South Korea.”

She said she had found people “pleasant, friendly, polite,” South Korean society “efficient,” and the cuisine “amazing” — especially barbecue dishes.

Jacob Lotinga is a contributor to The Korea Times.

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