S. Koreans’ spending on overseas tuition falls to 9-year low in 2014

February 3, 2015
Thousands of parents and students gather at a high school auditorium in southern Seoul on Dec. 6, 2014, to hear an information session on strategies for university admission, held by a major private tutoring enterprise. (Yonhap)

Thousands of parents and students gather at a high school auditorium in southern Seoul on Dec. 6, 2014, to hear an information session on strategies for university admission, held by a major private tutoring enterprise. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The amount of money South Koreans spent on education abroad dropped to the lowest level in nine years, central bank data showed Tuesday, as tepid local economic conditions discouraged people from studying overseas.

Koreans studying abroad spent a total of US$3.72 billion in 2014, down 14 percent from a year earlier, according to the data by the Bank of Korea (BOK). The reading, which includes spending by exchange students and language school students, is the lowest since $3.38 billion in 2005.

Koreans spent a record $5.02 billion on overseas studies in 2007, but the figure has been falling since the global financial crisis as cash-strapped households scaled back such spending.

The number of Koreans studying abroad, tallied by the education ministry, reached 219,543 people last year, down 3.3 percent from a year earlier and falling for a third straight year.

The on-year decline was mostly attributed to a fall in students studying in Australia, Britain and the United States, according to ministry data.

Separate central bank data showed that Korean households also cut their spending on overall education costs.

Their credit card spending on “hagwon,” or cram schools, reached 8.04 trillion won (US$7.33 billion) in the January-November period last year, down 0.8 percent from the same period a year earlier.

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