Tuition fees at Korea's state-run universities are the sixth most expensive in the OECD and at private universities the fourth most expensive even though few feature prominently in global rankings.
According to the latest OECD educational index published Tuesday, the U.S., Chile, Japan, Canada and Australia are the only other member nations of the club of rich countries where fees are higher. The U.S., Australia and Japan had the most expensive private university fees, but they also have vastly more prestigious schools.
The index was complied for 35 OECD member countries plus 11 non-member nations.
The average fees for state universities in Korea stand at W5.17 million, down from W5.4 million last year, and at private universities W9.27 million, down from W9.67 million.
Korea was the only OECD member country where tuition fees fell. An Education Ministry official said, "It appears that the fee burden has eased a little given that Korea ranked third for state-run university fees and second for private university fees last year. But it's true that Korea still ranks near the top of the world."
As the school-age population declines due to a persistently low birthrate, the teacher-to-student ratio fell to 1:16.8 for elementary schools, 1:15.7 for middle schools and 1:14.1 for high schools, down 0.1, 0.9 and 0.4.
Starting wages for teachers at public schools are relatively low, but salaries grow to surpass the OECD average with time. As of 2015, new teachers earned W32.02 million in elementary school, W32.08 million in middle school and W31.28 million for high school. The OECD average was W34.82 million, W36.36 million and W38.2 million.
But those with 15 years of teaching experience earned W56.01 million, W56.08 million and W55.28 million, compared to the OECD average of W48.41 million, W50.40 million and W52.67 million.