According to the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat (World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision), the total population of the Republic of Korea is expected to rise by 2% between 2010 and 2020 to reach 48 910 000 in 2020. However, the number of young people aged between 15 and 24 is predicted to fall during the same period to make up 11.2% of the whole population in 2020.

The South Korean government is aware of this challenge and is implementing policies to increase the quality of education and research, raise the attainment level in Master's and doctoral education and internationalise the higher education system. Tertiary attainment rates for the population of working age are already noticeably above the OECD average.*

*OECD, Education at a glance 2010