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Universities in South Korea

With over 370 official higher education providers in total, South Korea has plenty to offer interested students. The country boasts no less than six top-20 entries and 54 representatives in total in the QS Asia University Rankings 2018, and 29 ranked institutions in the QS World University Rankings 2018®. Here’s a closer look at some of the best performers.

The highest-ranked university in South Korea, Seoul National University is placed joint 36th in the QS World University Rankings 2018® and 11th in the QS Asia University Rankings 2018. Founded in 1946 as South Korea’s first national university, Seoul National University is one of the three prestigious SKY universities and provides research-led liberal education to around 28,630 students from undergraduate to PhD level. According to data collected by the Korean Educational Development Institute, Seoul National University spends more on its students per capita than any other Korean university with more than 10,000 students.

Situated in Daejeon, KAIST is the second-highest ranked Korean institution. A public research university with a current student population of just over 10,000, KAIST was established as the nation’s first research-led science and engineering institution. It ranks joint 41st in the QS World University Rankings and fourth in the QS Asia University Rankings 2018. It also comes third in the QS Top 50 Under 50, a ranking of the world’s leading universities under 50 years old. The majority of programs at KAIST are within STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and the university ranks among the world’s top 50 institutions in nine subjects.

Another university offering a science and technology-focused curriculum, POSTECH is a private research university ranked joint 71st in the world, 12th in the Asia ranking, and fifth in the QS Top 50 Under 50. POSTECH’s vast 378-acre smart campus, located 20 minutes’ drive from downtown Pohang, includes not only all the usual facilities – student accommodation, cafés and so on – but also a digital library, a sports multiplex, beautiful gardens and water features, a sculpture park and a pub called the Log Cabin, which, true to its name, is built entirely from logs. There are also the infamous “78 stairs of horror”, which must be climbed to get from the dormitories to the lecture rooms – rather a daunting prospect if you’re running late for class.

The third private research institution included in the SKY trio, Korea University has a long-held rivalry with Yonsei University which is reflected in the many competitive sporting events between the two. Ranked joint 90th in the world and 16th in the Asia rankings, Korea University currently has a student body of around 37,300, and, of its faculty of 1,500, over 95% hold a PhD or equivalent within their field. The school’s college of law is reputed for offering one of the most prestigious undergraduate law programs in the country. The university, which boasts an Olympic-sized ice rink within its campus, also ranks highly for chemical engineering, social policy and administration, modern languages, politics and hospitality & leisure management.

Ranked 108th this year in the global rankings and 18th in Asia, Sungkyunkwan University is another private institution which has two main campuses, a Humanities and Social Sciences campus in Seoul and a Natural Sciences campus further south in Suwon. The university has a long history dating back to its founding in 1398 by the Joseon Dynasty, and today has around 34,700 students enrolled. Sungkyunkwan is considered to have one of the best medical schools in the country (ranked 101-150 globally in the subject rankings and second in South Korea), which is affiliated with the world-famous Samsung Medical Center. The university appears among the world’s best for a further 29 subjects, including the top 30 for modern languages

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