SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The University of Utah is on its way to opening a campus in a South Korea.
The South Korean government has signed on to subsidize the project, as part of an effort to draw investment to the multibillion-dollar, privately-developing city of Songdo. The campus is set to open in March 2014.
South Korea has “a sense of being somewhat of a stepchild in Asia,” said Michael Hardman, the interim senior vice president for academic affairs. “They want to see themselves as being a major player globally. That’s why they’re making this investment.”
The campus will open as part of a larger site for several other Western universities, The Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/WqjPja). The State University of New York system of schools opened classrooms there to 34 students last year. George Mason University in Virginia and Ghent University in Belgium both plan to start classes there in spring 2014.
The school estimated that one in five students at the South Korea campus would be University of Utah students studying abroad. The new site would address a strong demand for U.S. degree programs for students in China and Korea, the school said.
Hardman said the move would be a chance for the University to expand its presence internationally.
A few schools who signed on in the beginning have dropped out in recent years, citing tight budgets. Those included the University of Delaware, North Carolina State and the University of Southern California.
Robert Muir, the director of international operations at the university, called the venture a “risk-free” opportunity, adding that the university will open the campus without dipping into state funding.
South Korea will put in at least $1.5 million a year for the first four years. It will put in a $10 million loan that the university would pay back only if the campus turns a profit. The South Korean government would also cover the school’s rent for the state-of-the-art campus during the first five years.
Hardman said the university looks to make money from the school in years four and five. “If that’s not happening,” he said, “we have an exit strategy.”
The profits from the South Korean site would go back into that campus.
The university’s own studies show that Korean families can afford the school’s $20,000 annual tuition, about the same price that international and out-of-state students pay now.
The school aims to start with 100 undergraduate students and 25 graduate students studying social work, psychology, communications, writing and English. It plans to introduce degrees in bioengineering and math teaching in 2016.
A team of lawyers is looking into labor laws and other legal issues for the university. The opening of the South Korea campus hinges on whether Utah intellectual property law will apply to that campus.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com