International students voice their discomfort in the lack of necessary assistance they receive in issues regarding inadequacy of information on course registration policies and graduation requirements, as well as on-campus housing.
There are 969 degree-seeking international undergraduate students enrolled as of April 2019. This figure is 6.14 percent of total 15,789 undergraduate students, which includes both Korean nationals and international students.
Even though communication between the international and Korean community exists, its pattern is highly variable depending on factors such as nationality and major. According to the Office of International Affairs (OIA), nationality-based student councils exist for Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Malaysian undergraduates.
“There is very little representation of non-Asian international students at Ewha, because we are such a minority number-wise, even within the international community,” said Erin Reid, a Scottish student who was recently-elected international representative from the Division of International Studies (DIS).
The international student representation gap is more evident when comparing majors. In certain branches such as Division of Communications and Media (DCM) and DIS, the ratio of international student population to total population is relatively higher than other majors, according to OIA.
Wellcomm, the 2019 DCM student council, sought to include international members this year, however were met with no volunteers wishing to run for a position.
“We asked international students we knew personally whether they had any intentions of becoming a member of the student council, but there were no volunteers,” said Lee Jung-min, one of two co-representatives, at WellComm.
DIS also recruited its first-ever international student representative this year. Gaon DIS, the 2019 student council for the division promoted the opening of this position to international students in March. International students in DIS were allowed to run for candidacy, and the voting rights were given to international students exclusively.
“Gaon DIS came to the conclusion that information provided to international students was often slow and limited, so they decided to elect an international representative to alleviate this matter,” said Yae Bin, a junior student who currently heads Gaon DIS.
“The part that was especially worrying for international students was that mobile phone numbers and KakaoTalk IDs are omitted, and some students leave their email addresses as their unique contact point,” she explained.
The votes were held from March 14 to 15, with results being published on Gaon DIS’s social media pages, Instagram and Facebook accordingly.
“My role as international DIS representative is primarily to represent the international students in DIS, but in reality, there’s not much opportunity to do so,” Reid said.
Reid further explained that she would be present in representative meetings together with the freshman, sophomore, junior and Global Korean Studies student representatives.
In addition to their pre-existing Ewha PEACE Buddy program, which matches a Korean buddy to a group of exchange or full-time international students, Foreign Student Unions, and English-speaking volunteers helping international students, the OIA hopes to establish more individual need-based mentoring programs in the future.
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