In recent times, many university students are turning their thoughts to the prospect of studying abroad. In fact, the number of exchange students is on the increase. A survey shows that 22 percent of university students are now entertaining the notion of pursuing their studies overseas. But many still hesitate because of the high cost. There is, however, a way of going abroad without worrying about money; that is, there is a governmental scheme which sends students abroad at state expense.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology recently announced various improvements to the scheme. From now on, the selected number of students who can go abroad at state expense will increase from 40 persons to 70, 20 percent of whom will be selected from low-income groups. What is more, the method of selection through examination has greatly changed. This is good news for those university students who cannot contemplate the experience without state assistance.
The system of state-assisted scholarships for students wishing to study abroad came into force in 1977. The goal of the scheme is to cultivate high-quality human resources for the future prosperity of the country. About two thousand people have already gone abroad through this system. But as private scholarships multiply, the government scheme has become less popular. For this reason, the policy has undergone several changes and improvements.
Then, what are the qualifications needed to apply? First of all, all university students are entitled to take the qualifying exam. The selection examination is divided into two parts. For the first part, the subjects of evaluation are: a history and foreign language test. According to the new improvements, the optimum grade for history has lowered from 2 to 3. Shin Jae-yong, an international student exchange staff member in the National Institute for International Education(NIID) said: "We are trying to expand the range of possible applicants for the exam.”
The second part is a written exam for the students’ own major; however, this part has recently metamorphosed into an interview format. The oral exam is a way of assessing applicants’ potential for development during their period of studying abroad. After the students are selected, the government scheme provides financial support for 2 or 3 years. It also allows students to pick their particular field of study as well as their country of choice. Shin Jae-yong said: "We need to distinguish ourselves from the private scholarships on offer. We will focus on increasing the rate of students applying for the scheme. We will also try to focus on intellectual disciplines relevant to the future prosperity of Korea."
The selection period is divided into two parts; the first half and second half of the year. Students should prepare for this exam at least one year prior to the examination day. It is, therefore, important to realize that, before applying, passion and commitment are the essential qualities to have. To buttress this greatly changed system, many professionals from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology along with other institutions avail themselves selflessly in order to provide a first-rate service. Shin Jae-yong, from the international student exchange team in NIIED, said: "If students prepare themselves in the right manner, the opportunity is there
for the taking."
As a result of these fundamental changes, the number of selected students has increased a hundred percent. Before such changes, there were only a few DU students going abroad as recipients of this scheme. Why don’t you take up the challenge and apply for a state-assisted scholarship?
Bang Hye-jung .
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