What Makes KGSP Better than Other Scholarship Programs?

[Series of articles on KGSP: First article | Second article | Third article | Fourth article .]

KGSP (Korean Government Scholarship Program) is very prestigious scholarship program provided by the Korean government (NIIED) for international students who are willing to study in South Korea, both undergraduate level and graduate level (higher number of applicants for graduate program). As one of recipients of this program that interact with other students from various scholarship programs, I feel that NIIED provides nice scholarship for types of supports that it provides.

Here are some advantages that we’ll get if we are part of this scholarship program.

1. Sufficient amount of monthly stipend. Every month a KGSP scholar accepts 900.000KRW (800.000KRW for undergraduate). This is generally considered sufficient compared to other scholarship programs, such as scholarship from lab research fund (professor) or university. If we can manage our financial nicely, that amount of money is more than enough for 1 month living cost in South Korea, including large cities such as Seoul and Busan. If one can pass TOPIK level 5 or 6, s/he will get another 100.000 KRW per month.

2. Network of international friendship. In 2012 there were around 350 recipients, and increases up to around 800 awardees were granted with KGSP scholarship. They are from xx countries and study in 60 universities all across the country. Prior to studying in university for master/doctoral degree, one needs to spend one year (or a semester in some cases) to learn Korean language, in which s/he will be in the same language institute with other students from various countries. Therefore, s/he’ll improve the network of friendship into a new level, by having larger number and more diverse foreign friends.

3. Good level of Korean proficiency. Unlike other scholarship programs, KGSP requires its awardees to have a certain degree of Korean proficiency. In most cases, students are required to study Korean language for 1 year (provided by KGSP), in which they have to pass TOPIK level 3 (or higher) by the end of language course. Otherwise, they have to spend another semester (6 months) learning more Korean. Small numbers of students whose TOPIK level is either 5 or 6 are not required to do so, and therefore they can continue their study program right away.

By this scheme, KGSP scholars are generally more familiar with Korean and language, which is very beneficial for their daily life and future career opportunities. They can blend in to Korean culture better with their language proficiency and understanding of Korean culture. It will easier for them to have Korean friends, play around with them, or even exchange jokes among them. In term of career opportunities, their level of language proficiency will help a lot in opening new career. They can either work in Korea after graduation or be employed by Korean company in their respected country.

4. Potential for extra monthly stipend. For students with TOPIK 5 or 6, NIIED will reward them with extra 100.000 KRW on their monthly stipend. For a master student, assuming s/he gets the score after 1.5 years, s/he’ll get 1.800.000KRW (roughly around 1.800USD) extra. That’s quite big amount of money that one might need to consider during the Korean language program.

For those who are studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), if they are residing in a lab and working on some project, the professor also generally pays them with some amount of money every month. If they publish good papers or perform very well on their lab works/research projects, some bonuses on certain days (e.g. Korean Thanksgiving, Korean New Year, etc.) might also be awarded to them.

5. Events organized by KGSP. Since KGSP is a quite well organized program, there are several events held by NIIED to help awardees perform better in their study.

a.Orientation in the beginning of program: at the beginning of scholarship programs, all awardees are invited to some resorts in which NIIED introduce them to KGSP. In addition to that, the introduction of Korean culture starts there: there will be some programs to Korean tourism site.

b. Students’ Competition: Annually, KGSP also organizes some types of competitions among its scholars. As far as I remember, there is a video competition, in which students are encouraged to describe their Korean experience in form of video. There is also an essay competition with almost similar topic. NIIED provides a quite amount of  money as award for those competitions.

c. Award ceremony every end of the year. Every end of year, KGSP organizes an awarding ceremony to reward students with great performance during their stay in Korea. The most prestigious one is academic award, given to those with excellence academic performance. Some other category includes students with community service, etc.

d. Alumni sharing session. Sometimes NIIED invites KGSP alumni to give some talk about their experience during their study in Korea, in which currently receiving participants are welcomed to be part of.

6. More privileges provided by the hosting university. Being a well-known program, KGSP offers give its awardees extra indirect advantages. One time, my university (SNU) organized a summer program for international students. However, not every foreign students can participate since only a limited number of seats are available. Among students who can participate, KGSP are some of them, even given some level of priority. During my Korean language program, my language institute (Keimyung University) also organized special dinner program every end of semester, only for KGSP scholars. They also organized a cultural program, aiming to introduce international students with Korean culture (Taekwondo, Korean calligraphy, Korean music/Saemulnori), only for KGSP awardees.