Dubai has Knowledge Village. Qatar has Education City. Now, South Korea is building Songdo Global University Campus.
|New construction in Songdo.|
Each project is designed to be an international university hub, hosting western college campuses. Together, they are leading the way in the latest trend, and many say inevitable future, of higher education in a globalized world.
South Korea sends more students abroad per capita than any other country. The government hopes to turn the study abroad traffic around and bring college campuses here. (It's building a similar campus for western primary and secondary schools in Jeju Island.)
An hour outside of Seoul, a new city is rising atop former mudflats in the Yellow Sea near Incheon International Airport. Songdo will be a high tech mecca and future home to dozens of multinational companies, millions of residents, and a half-dozen international college campuses, officials say.
I toured the vast construction zone, and listened to repeated descriptions of the new city as an ideal place to "live, work, and play." So far, it looks like any brand of exurbia, with mostly places to live. In Korea that means the latest in modern high-rise living.
But the government is hard at work recruiting the universities they hope will anchor their fledgling community.
Several universities are already studying the feasibility of opening a campus in Songdo, including George Mason University in Northern Virginia and the University of Southern California. Stony Brook University in New York, which already attracts 2,000 students from Asia to its main campus, has broken ground in Songdo and will likely open some time this year.
A head recruiter told me that she is targeting mainly public universities in the US, because they are more affordable for Korean families than the most prestigious private schools and because many of them are interested in the global cache such a partnership could bring at a time when diversity and international experience are becoming educational imperatives.
Officials say the future campus will attract students from around Asia, as well as the country.
|Map shows the future university's proximity to |
major population centers around Asia