UNMC to begin student exchange with prestigious South Korean university

Partnership marks UNMC's entry into South Korea, expands international presence

The University of Nebraska Medical Center has signed a memorandum of understanding to begin a student exchange with Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea.

The agreement, which would begin for the 2014-2015 academic year, would mark UNMC’s entry into South Korea and expand the scope of the medical center’s Asia Pacific Rim Development Program (APRDP).

Currently, UNMC has partnerships with four Chinese institutions – Tongji University in Shanghai, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Xi’an Jiao Tong University and Beijing Institute of Life Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences – as well as in India.

UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., signed the agreement during an October visit to the Asia Pacific Rim in which he also met with several of UNMC’s partner institutions in China. Daehee Kang, M.D., Ph.D., dean of Seoul National University College of Medicine, signed the agreement for SNU.

SNU is considered the best university in South Korea, said Jialin Zheng, M.D, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and director of UNMC’s APRDP and the individual who accompanied Dr. Maurer to South Korea.

The SNU College of Medicine originated in 1899 when Korea’s first modern medical school opened. In 1946, two Seoul medical colleges were merged to form SNU College of Medicine. 

SNU has 1,586 students, 509 faculty and 1,650 researchers/staff and offers a full slate of undergraduate and graduate programs.

In the field of medical education, SNU ranks 37th in the 2012 global ranking of universities by Quacquarelli Symonds, a British organization that evaluates colleges and universities. SNU’s goal is to rank among the global top 10 of medical schools.  

“This is an exciting opportunity and speaks highly of UNMC’s reputation and its strong presence in the Asia Pacific Rim,” Dr. Maurer said. “South Korea has a very close relationship with the United States, and it is a country that has a strong American influence.”

He noted that the South Korean economy is strong, and the country is one of four Asia Pacific Rim countries/districts that make up the popular “four little dragons.” The other countries/districts include Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Initially, the student exchange will involve two students from each campus, Dr. Zheng said. The students would be either medical students or research students seeking a Ph.D. They would complete an elective clinical or research rotation depending on their area of study.

UNMC students would be able to stay in South Korea for up to one month. The SNU students could possibly stay longer than a month, Dr. Zheng said.

Dr. Zheng said the exchange could eventually expand to include faculty, noting that a couple UNMC faculty members have already been invited to visit South Korea.

A South Korean native, Woo-Yang Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Developmental Neuroscience at UNMC’s Munroe-Meyer Institute, will serve as a contact person and faculty advisor for the exchange program. 

“Seoul is less than two hours from Shanghai by air,” Dr. Zheng said. “With our strong Chinese partnerships, many UNMC faculty members already are going to China. It would be easy for them to continue on to South Korea and spend a few days there.”

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu and follow us on social media.


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Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4690 (office)
(402) 650-7063 (cell)