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The University of Utah will begin classes at its first international campus in September after the Korean Ministry of Education officially approved the campus in the South Korean city of Songdo Monday.
University officials hope to enroll about 275 students initially, most of them from South Korea and Asia, though the late timing of the government approval could make that a challenge, said Chief Global Officer Michael Hardman. The U. will offer three undergraduate degrees social work, communication and psychology and one graduate degree in public health this year, according to a statement.
"It's been six years in getting it to the point where we're comfortable and the Korean government is comfortable," that the education is up to the standards of the main U. campus, said Hardman. "We're very satisfied we'll be able to do that."
The U. won't spend any state public money on the venture. The South Korean government is paying for the university to set up operations there, providing at least $1.5 million a year for the first four years as well as a $10 million interest-free loan the U. doesn't have to pay back unless its campus there is profitable.
The school will also use the $350 million campus for free for the first five years. It's located in a multibillion-dollar, privately-developed city built on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea.
The government invited the U. and several other schools to set up at the new Songdo Global University campus, which is located in the Incheon area, one of the largest free economic zones in Asia. Several schools initially involved with the project have dropped out, saying the market for attracting South Korean students wasn't strong enough to justify setting up shop there, but U. officials have said they'll be able operate profitably.
Tuition will be about $20,000 a year, a similar price to what international students at the U. pay. American U. students who study in Songdo will pay in-state tuition.
The U.'s student body in Songdo is predicted to be 40 percent Korean, 40 percent from elsewhere in Asia and 20 percent from the U.S. and Europe. Undergraduates will spend three years in Korea and one year at the U.'s main campus in Salt Lake City and graduate students will split their two-year program between Utah and Korea.
Asian and Korean students will have the same admission requirements as Utah students. Applications will be accepted until July 1 for the fall semester.