Top 5 Things To Know Before Applying To South Korean Universities

Friday, July 26, 2019

I have recently been accepted into Yonsei University in South Korea as a full time undergraduate student. Throughout my application process, I have learnt a lot of things. Information, which unfortunately I could not find in much detail when I desperately needed it. To help you guys out, that is anyone who may be considering applying to universities in South Korea, I have come up with the top 5 things I believe you need to be aware of :

1. You will need all your original official documents and will need to get them notarised and apostilled. 

You need all your original paperwork! This includes : your birth certificate (or another government certified document showing the relationship between you and your parents), valid passports for yourself and your parents, your school qualifications and transcript (UK students can simply ask their schools for a transcript, as we don’t usually receive this when we finish school).

Another tip for UK students - When South Korean universities request a high school diploma, this is actually equivalent to our GCSEs. This means you can submit your GCSE certificates with a note informing them that in the UK we do not receive a high school diploma, but instead GCSE qualifications. You can also submit your A-Level qualifications as additional documents. 

You will need to get all your original qualifications, as well as yours and your parents passports, notarised by a notary or a solicitor and then apostilled by the government. This was a struggle for me initially, as all the quotes I received from notaries were very expensive. They were coming in at £400 and above, one even quoted me £700 plus VAT!!!

Eventually, I came across one online (Holborn notary). I explained the fact that I may need to use their services again and they gave me a very good price of just over £200. After they had notarised my documents, I then had to apply online via the government website to get my documents apostilled. This came at a cost of £30 per document. All my personal documents (qualifications and my passport), were considered as 1 document and my mum's passport as another document. So in total I had to pay £60 for x2 documents. This was a fast process and my documents were always returned within 2 days with the apostille stamp. 

Unfortunately notaries and the government cannot notarise birth certificates, so either you send the universities the original (NOT RECOMMENDED!! You will NOT get it back), or pay for certified copies from the Births and Deaths Registry, and send them one of these.

2. Financial Proof

You will need to prove you have at least $20,000 ~ £17,000 (for Seoul based universities ) and $18,000 ~ £15,000 (for universities based outside of Seoul) in your bank account. This is to assure them you can fund yourself at least for the first year. This means, if you are really serious about applying for a South Korean university, you need to start saving!

3. Posting Your Application to the Universities

You will need to post your application documents to the universities via international couriers, so find a reputable and reliable one. You need to ensure the one you use is not known for loosing packages or severe delays, that you can insure your package and they also give you full live tracking details. I used DHL who were perfect, until the last package I had to send, but thank God, the university still received my documents after some delay. It cost me about £40 each time. There are others such as Royal Mail, UPS, DPD etc

4. Korean Language Skills

Unless you are applying for an English taught degree, you will need to prove you have sufficient Korean language acquisition, in order to be accepted as an undergraduate student. There are 2 ways most universities evaluate this. They can either request a TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) exam score, or you will need to sit their own test after you have been accepted. To improve the success rate of your application, I would recommend you study for the TOPIK exam a year or many months prior to applying for universities then sit the intermediate (TOPIK II) exam. You will need to attain at least a Level 3 (as of 2019, but this is set to change to Level 4 for many Universities beginning 2020). Make sure you check when the TOPIK II exams are being held in your country (Official TOPIK website) to make sure you sit it with enough time to receive your result, so you can submit it as part of your application. Many, if not all of the universities will not accept your test score after the application submission deadline has passed, so this is a VERY important point.

For example, if you want to apply for a university in August - October for a spring start of the next year, you will need to submit your application during the application period of August - October. This means you will need to ensure you have sat the TOPIK exam at least 1 month before August, as the results are released 1 month after the exam. In the UK, TOPIK exams are held twice a year, once in April, then in November. In this particular example I have given, you would need to make sure you sit the April exam.

5. Exchange Rates

Lastly, you have to watch the exchange rate of your country's currency to Korean won (krw / ₩) as this can change everyday! This is significant because it impacts your proof of funds that you will have to send in. Depending on the day the university receives your financial statement, if the exchange rate is bad, it would seem your funds are insufficient (if you have saved just enough to hit the amount they have requested). Also related to this, is paying your tuition fee, if accepted. Again, depending on the exchange rate at the time the university's bank receives the payment, this will affect how much they may request you to add to the original amount you sent or in some good cases, how much they may need to refund you(if the exchange rate on the day is in your favour).

I really hope these top 5 things to know before applying to South Korean universities, have been helpful to you. Before I applied, I wished someone had informed me in detail of all the points above! 

If you do decide to go ahead and apply to a South Korean university and have any questions or need any help, don't hesitate to post a comment or send me an email at I am more than happy to help!

All my best wishes with your applications!

Speak Soon. X

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