The Korea Herald


Seoul to invest W650b in universities for city competitiveness

Plan includes attracting 1,000 foreign students in engineering, natural sciences

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : June 18, 2024 - 15:08

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Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks during a press briefing Tuesday on the city government's investment plans for universities based in Seoul. (Yonhap) Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks during a press briefing Tuesday on the city government's investment plans for universities based in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will invest 650 billion won ($471 million) over the next five years to help universities train students with the skills needed for the next generation of industries, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said in a press briefing Tuesday.

“With a goal to make Seoul one of the top five global cities (in the Global Cities Index), the city government aims to boost the city’s global competitiveness by boosting the competitiveness of universities in Seoul, by helping to boost its research capabilities,” said Mayor Oh.

According to the city government, Seoul currently has 54 universities operating under its jurisdiction. As of June 2024, there are a total of 680,000 students and 20,000 full-time faculty members at the universities, including about 75,000 international students. Every year, the city sees some 130,000 graduates.

Under its project, the 650 billion won is to be spread between 42 universities from 2025 to 2029, or 130 billion won annually.

Thirty universities will be selected to receive funding to enhance cooperative projects between universities and companies and to encourage the nurturing of skilled workforces for future industries, focusing on joint research, technology development and human resource development.

Twelve other universities will be selected to receive up to 60 billion won during the five-year period to fund projects that are focused on licensing and intellectual property development.

According to Oh, the city government anticipates the 42 selected universities to be able to seek “closer academic and industrial ties” with corporations through its investment.

The city also aims to nurture up to 3,200 domestic and international talents specializing in the field of new technologies. This includes a plan to attract up to 1,000 international students with master's or doctoral degrees into Seoul who specialize in natural sciences and engineering.

In addition to its investment plan, Mayor Oh added that the city government aims to reduce barriers between universities and its surrounding neighborhoods as part of its “university-neighborhood project.” Up to 10 universities, including Korea University, Sogang University and Yonsei University, are currently part of the project.

According to the project, some university facilities, including libraries, music halls and lecture halls, will be open to public use and to host cultural and musical events. Dormitories, which are normally left empty during summer and winter holidays, will be open to use for tourists as part of its “Campus Stay” program.

“The competitiveness of universities is the competitiveness of Seoul, as well as South Korea,” said Mayor Oh. “Through the city government’s new plan, the city aims to harness the universities’ diverse and valuable resources to become a core growth engine of the city.”