KGSP University Quota – Regional Universities Revisited

**Disclaimer** I am not in any way affiliated with NIIED except to be a KGSP recipient. All opinions are based on my personal experience in Korea.

So, the Regional University quota versus the General University quota still seems to be a mystery to some (or many).

The Korean government’s apparent objective with the regional university quota is to attract talented people in STEM fields (specifically natural science and engineering) to universities outside the Seoul area. Keeping this goal in mind lets look at how that should affect your decision for your KGSP application.

Stage one: University selection

Say you are choosing between two universities that are roughly equal in prestige and are equally difficult to get into. One is a university in Seoul and one is designated as a “regional university.” There are 30 people applying to each of them. Based on their applications each person is ranked from 1 to 30 and the people at each rank are the same as each other (the first ranked people at each school got the same score as each other, the second rank people got the same score, and so on). Also, assume that all 30 are qualified for acceptance into the university, so the only thing that would prevent them from being accepted would be the quota that NIIED sets for university recommendations to KGSP.

You are an engineering major. If you apply to the school in Seoul then you must be one of the top 20 students, no matter what. (This is in a simplified universe where all majors are equally valued by the university. Obviously, in the real world, they may choose someone farther down the list because they want/need people from a particular major, or there is some personal relationship, or any number of random reasons.)

But, if you apply to the regional university then they get three extra spots specifically for natural science/engineering majors. (It used to be three, but it might be more or less now.) If you are in the top three students in one of these fields then you will be accepted, no matter what your overall rank is. For example, even if you are last in the ranking, if all 29 of the other people are majoring in history, psychology, business and philosophy then you can still be accepted. Also, even if you are not one of the top three  science/engineering students, then you just need to be in the top 20 out of 27 students instead of 20 out of 30 at the school in Seoul.

Stage two: NIIED selection

The exact same situation applies for the NIIED phase of the selection process. Now instead of being compared to people applying to one university, you are being compared to people from your own country.

Say that 10 people from your same country have been recommended by various universities. Your country has a quota of 2 people from regional universities and 3 general spots.

Again, if you have applied through a regional university in a science or engineering field, if you are one of the top two students who fit the regional quota, then you will be accepted, even if you are objectively ranked below everyone else.

But what if you aren’t one of those top 2 students? The quota for general applicants is bigger that the regional quota, so wouldn’t it be an advantage to apply just for a general spot? This is where you have to remember the original goal of creating regional university quotas in the first place. The whole idea is to attract smart people in STEM fields to non-Seoul universities. If, of the 10 students, the top five ranked people are all regional quota candidates does it make sense to reject 3 strong candidates in favor of people who don’t fit the regional quota? They are trying to bring people to these regional universities, so why would they turn them away?

The answer is that they wouldn’t. If all five of the best people applied through the regional quota then they will likely use the entire quota for that country for these five people. In other words, there is a maximum limit of three people that they will accept from outside the regional quota, but they may accept fewer if the regional candidates are strong. This works out in the following way:

General Candidates

Rank 1-3: Definitely accepted

Rank 4-5: Maybe accepted if one or more of the 1-3 ranked students were in the regional quota

Rank 6-10: No chance to be accepted

Regional Candidates

Rank 1-3: Definitely accepted

Rank 4-5: Definitely accepted

Rank 6-10: Maybe accepted if only one or fewer of the higher ranked students were in the regional quota

So you can see there is a definite advantage to choosing a regional university if you are in a natural science or engineering field. But, like all decisions in KGSP there is an element of uncertainty. If everyone decides to go this route then there will be more competition, but it is likely that the attraction of Seoul and its universities will balance against the attraction of a slight advantage in the admissions process. This is not a guaranteed process even for very weak students. You will still need to meet the standards of the KGSP program and for the university that you choose. Universities don’t necessarily have to fill every quota if there are not enough qualified students. But, if you think that you are a good candidate for the university, but worry about competing with others from your country who will be applying in Seoul, then the regional quota may be a good choice for you.

12 thoughts on “KGSP University Quota – Regional Universities Revisited”

  1. Hey there,
    I’ve Been looking at your blog, and am going to apply for KGSP under the university track. From what I can make of it I am better off applying to the regional universities. since I dont have the best grades in my undergrad, my GPA is only 3.05 and it converts to 84% on a 100 point scale. What I do have is a band 8 in IELTS and My degree is in Genetics and will be applying to Biological Sciences or something of the sort. I’ve Noticed that some institutions offer tution Wavers and stipends for all graduate students, like UNIST & GIST, so I was wondering if I should bother applying to them directly or are my grades probably not good enough?

    1. A regional university might give you a slight advantage. Your GPA might be on the lower side of what NIIED will accept, but it is within the range and you have other qualifications that will boost your application, so there is always hope!

      As for other schools, I would just say to weigh the cost of applying (including time and money investment) against your desire to study in Korea and your chances to get in. Talk to your professors about what they think. If they believe you have what it takes to do a graduate degree, then they will be able to write you a good recommendation. It’s also possible your university has more strict grading standards and your performance is better than your GPA might indicate. Your professor would be able to explain that as well. If you’ve participated in professors’ research that would be another plus. There are too many factors for me to assess in a comment, but your professors should be able to give you a better idea.

      Then, as I said, you just need to decide how much you want it. There is always a chance that your other achievements will outweigh your GPA, and so if it is effort you want to make and money you can afford to spend, then I would apply to other programs as well.

      1. Oh just a thought, I Shouldnt even be thinking about applying to KGSP in a non Regional University right?

      2. Applying to a regional university will put you in a smaller pool of candidates. It is hard to say for sure what your competition will be like, so there is always the chance that you would make it through at a general university. I can’t say that anything is either guaranteed or impossible. If there is a specific university that you are really passionate about then only you can decide if it is worth applying without the regional edge. Also, you probably know better than I what KGSP interest is like in your country and the people (or kinds of people) you are likely to be up against. I would say start your search in the regional universities, but consider all of your options.

  2. Hello,
    In the second round where NIIED checks the applications, what are they looking for? Are they just verifying the documents for legitimacy, or evaluating the essays, or doing background checks?

    1. As far as I know they don’t do background checks or phone calls or anything like that. But they are reading and evaluating your application just like at any other stage in the process. If they get 20 applications from the Philippines through the universities and there is a university quota of 5 for the Philippines (that was random, I don’t know what the actual quota is) then NIIED is reading those 20 applications to decide who those 5 people will be. And so on and so forth for all countries’ university and embassy quotas.

  3. Thank you for useful information, after read this blog i ended up to applied by university in regional and also in STEM major. I’ve got accepted in university but i still nervous NIIED will reject me because my GPA just 84 percent.

  4. hello anyone can clear me about regional quota??if any engineering student apply through non-regional university located in Seoul in that moment,is it counted for regional quota…..or,regional quota means natural science/engineering students can apply through regional/non-regional university and it will count as a regional quota……

    1. To be counted in the regional quota, you must be BOTH an engineering (or natural science) major AND apply to a regional university. If you fulfill both requirements, you will automatically be considered with the regional quota.

      If you apply to a school in Seoul (or any university not included in the regional university list) you will NOT be considered with the regional quota, but with the general quota instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: