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[Incheon Ilbo] The Catfish Effect for Universities in Age of Uncontact

Press Releaseㅣ2020-06-17 11:51

The situation in Korean universities seems very difficult. Due to COVID-19, universities are struggling to prepare for the unprecedented problems in operation of online lectures and school management.

In Songdo, Incheon, there are five foreign universities, including SUNY Korea, FIT, George Mason University, the University of Utah, and Ghent University. When Korea suffered from COVID-19 in February, the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, launched a private plane to bring students and staff from SUNY campuses abroad.

'Untact' or 'Uncontact' means no direct contact with people. With COVID-19, the 'Untact' era is accelerating in earnest and is impacting not only the economy and society, but also the way people live. It seems the time of ‘Uncontact’ may be longer than expected for universities in Korea and abroad, which leads to contemplation about how universities should survive.

With emphasis on nurturing creative and outstanding students in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution, current online classes will not be able to cover the essential areas of education, as it is only an educational method in the era of Uncontact. Although the definition of education can vary from person to person, the future university education should ultimately aim for global connection, convergence, and social impact.

It is understandable in this context that each country needs to provide exceptional support to attract prestigious universities abroad. In Singapore, it provided exceptional cash, such as $310 million to Duke University in the US and $100 million to MIT, and also allowed for profit transfers with commercial corporations. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has provided an unprecedented package to attract foreign universities, including free rental of land, buildings, and equipment for 50 years, as well as an exemption from various taxes and a remittance of negligence for 50 years. If you visit the Knowledge Village in Dubai, you can see 25 prestigious universities in 11 countries around the world, such as the University of Michigan in the United States and Manchester Business School in the UK, actively engaged in educational research activities. Neighboring China is known to have provided free land worth 43.4 billion won and even incurred a construction cost of 165 billion won when attracting Nottingham University in Ningbo.

How is Korea doing? The incentives that the Incheon Economic Authority can provide when attracting overseas prestigious universities are so small that they cannot compete with other countries. Foreign universities are only allowed when they are non-profit corporations, remittance of negligence is strictly limited, and tuition cannot be remitted to the home country. There are no tax cuts and subsidies are far less than those of competing countries, making it difficult for foreign universities to consider entering Korea.

However, the number of foreign students who came to Korea last year was 160,000, and interest in studying in Korea is still high enough to record the highest number ever since 2004. Foreign universities are also inquiring about the Incheon Global Campus. In March, the industry-academia cooperation legislation of foreign educational institutions passed the National Assembly, and cooperation between various foreign universities and Korean companies is expected.

By attracting foreign universities, countries can lead the world. The influx of global talents and aggressive industry-academia-research systems are important incentives to attract numerous multinational companies to Singapore. Korea should also attract more global universities to strengthen the competitiveness of university education.

Accordingly, the Incheon Economic Authority is planning to attract additional prestigious universities in strategic fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), hotels, tourism, biotechnology, and art colleges for the second leap forward of the Incheon Global Campus.

Source: Incheon Ilbo (

Translated by Sungwon Hyun

Edited by Andrew Schenck


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