Opening Education Markets, for Us or Not
Opening Education Markets, for Us or Not
  • An Lee Jung-un
  • 승인 2007.03.26 18:18
  • 댓글 0
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“My name is J.  I entered Harvard University.  As you know, Harvard University is located in Seoul.  I can learn foreign education through Harvard University without studying abroad.  My brother is a primary school student and he also attends a foreign elementary school.  In the past, only foreign students could enter foreign schools, however, Korea is currently enforcing to opening education market.  Now foreign schools are permitting Korean students to enter.”


This story is currently only in our imagination, however, it will be true.  We will be able to go to foreign schools from September 2007 as stated in the story above.  Shipping & Transport College (STC) which is located in the Netherlands will establish STC-K in Gwangyang Port. 

STC is a specialized university for physical distribution and has authority in Europe.  This school is planning to accept 500 Korean students in 2007.  It is the first example of a foreign school being founded in Korea, and is the influence of Korea opening its education markets. 

Opening education markets are becoming known to Korean people as the Korean government negotiates policies of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States.   Also, the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and World Trade Organization (WTO) will argue about opening education markets. 

Foreign countries want Korea and it’s government to enforce these policies, however, many people in Korea disagree with the objectives of large international entities.  The Korean Teacher & Educational Worker’s Union and some university students are opposed to opening education markets, and display their mistrust through demonstrations.  They believe the Korean government is confused and the disputes will continue.


What IS Opening Education Markets?

Opening Education markets are trade schools between other countries.  According to General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) in the WTO, it is defined by four modes.  Mode one is cross-border supply and cyber education is an example.  In other words, people use the Internet to learn foreign education. 

Mode two is consumption, and students studying abroad, is an example.  Mode three is commercial presence and it means foreign education agencies being able to do business in other countries.  Mode four is movement of natural persons which means foreign teachers and professionals from one country being able to teach or study in other countries. 

The issues focus primarily on modes three and four.  Now, the Korean government consents to foreign private academies adopting modes three and four, but doesn’t consent to foreign elementary, middle, high schools and universities.  However, if Korea enforces opening education markets, all foreign education agencies in Korea should be permitted to offer lessons to Korean students. 

For example, Harvard University could be founded in Korea; Korean students pay tuition fees to this university and take lessons.  Also foreign teachers can teach students in Korean schools.  This situation is a great change for Korea. 


High Quality of Education

Supporters insist opening education markets will raise the quality of education for Korean students.  Korea’s economy was ranked 12th among all countries which is a very high status.  However, Korean education is ranked lower than 12th. 

 Actually, many Korean Universities didn’t come within the top 100 universities of the world as of 2006.  Only Seoul National University was ranked 63rd.  In addition, according to the Samsung Economic Research Institute (SERI), Korean’s English abilities are last among 12 countries of Asia. 

What’s more surprising is that Korea spends 100 billion won on English education annually; that’s three times more than Japan spends.  These reports show that the quality of Korea’s education is very low.  Supporters of opening education markets suggest these new policies will increase the quality of education in Korea. 


It encourages competition among universities.  While Korea University competes with foreign universities, strong universities will survive and weak universities will disappear.  Through this process, Korea’s education can grow efficiently and effectively. 

Currently, Korea University doesn’t experience extreme competition, so the transition to opening education market reforms may be very difficult for the university, but a necessary step for Korea to improve its education system.  Chung, Un-chan, the ex-president of Seoul National University, also approves opening education markets.  He said, “University education in Korea should be opened fairly. Universities are the only places that don’t get an outside impact.”

And according to Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), 72.4 percent people of 700 people approve opening education markets.  They want it to raise Korea’s education standards.  Also, they expect students to learn high quality education without having to travel to foreign countries.

Lose Right of Korea Education

Opponents insist opening education markets will take away the right of Korea education.  If Korea’s government enforces it, foreign schools will come into Korea and many Korean students will enter their schools, therefore allowing ultra national capital to influence Korea education. 

Also, Korea will encounter serious problems that may change social and cultural traditions.  For example, if foreign education comes into Korea and foreign countries control the content of their education, then how much influence will it have over Korean culture and thought?  Although they will be educated in Korea, they may adapt foreign influences.

As time goes by, these Koreans who are influenced by foreign education may struggle emotionally with their traditional Korean values.  Korean culture is different from foreign culture, so if they enter a Korean company, they may face other surroundings which they have not experienced and learned. 

It’s possible that they may not be able to adapt to the unfamiliar surroundings and have to leave the company.  It may disrupt other Korean workers as well.  Also, opponents insist educational facilities are not the way to make money; education is a basic right that all people use regardless of race, wealth, and sex.  If the Korean government opens education markets, education will become commercialized.


Chance of New Exportation Market

Supporters insist opening education markets will offer new exportation markets.  Korea doesn’t have abundant resources and people, so Korea relies on exportation to make money.  Export goods include products from the manufacturing sector such as cars, cellular phones and shipbuilding. 


We don’t expect profits in the manufacturing industry now because China produces manufactured goods cheaper than and in larger quantities than Korea.  Therefore, Korea should find other exportation markets.  Experts recommend service markets such as medical service, law service and education. 

Consequently, opening education markets will be an opportunity to increase revenue. For example, JeonJu University unites university establishments and operations with Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia.  JeonJu University has established a working relationship with the National Technology University through the government of Cambodia. 

It is a national educational institution similar to the Korea Advanced Science and Technology (KAIST) program in Korea.  This institution attracts intelligent scientific researchers.  JeonJu University also plays a role to supplying Cambodian people to Korean companies which are located in Cambodia. 

Moreover, opening education markets help to reduce money that people spend in other countries to study English; Koreans spend 500 billion won to study abroad.  It accounts for 43 percent of all Korea trade income.  Thus, we give a large sum of money to other countries for learning English.  However, if foreign schools are founded in Korea, we can learn English in Korea, and there is no need to leave our country or spend our money elsewhere. 

Burden of Educational Expenses

Opponents insist opening education markets will incite people to spend more money.  Foreign universities have great influence and my interrupt academic cliques which are very important in Korea.  Korean people recognize it as culture capital moving and changing our social position.  Also, Koreans prefer an academic degree from a foreign university.  Therefore, Korean parents spend a lot of money on children who want to enter a foreign university. 

Others insist that Korea University will raise registration fees if foreign universities come into Korea.  Korea University must have higher revenues to compete with them and survive.  It would create a heavy burden of educational expenses to Korean families.  Currently, there are students who don’t enter the university because they don’t have money.  Also opponents insist that opening education markets will also open all of Korea’s markets. 

If we opening education markets, government will open agriculture, medical and culture markets as well.  There are risks when foreign countries make inroads into Korean markets.  We will lose some control of our economy, therefore, we must object to opening education markets in Korea.


Opening Education Markets of Other Countries

Canada opens all education markets, but Singapore only opens higher education markets that don’t include medical college, elementary and middle grades.  Australia opens middle grades and higher education markets, but they require self-control of student selection, fixing of registration fees and courses of study. 

Chile doesn’t open elementary, middle, high education markets; they only open adult education markets. Hong Kong enforced opening education markets and the government didn’t regulate foreign schools.  According to the International Herald Tribune, China also opened education markets so about 100 foreign branch schools were established in China.  The school’s fees are very expensive, but Chinese people prefer it this way because they can learn a higher quality of education. 

These countries have had no side effects until now.  However, some foreign schools are established to make money.  Therefore if these schools don’t make a lot of money, they will be closed.

What Is Your Opinion?

Opening education markets are very important for Koreans to consider.  The Korean government will consider the choices for the development of the nation.  Opening education markets may help Korea’s economy and quality of education, it may make it easier for Korean people to study English and Koreans won’t have to go to a foreign country. 

 However, it may destroy the rights of Korean education and disrupt Korea traditional culture and society.  What is your opinion?  Do you agree or disagree?  The choice is up to you.

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