Introduction to the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) and Songdo Global University Campus
Prepared by the Office of Global and International Strategies
Overview of Incheon Free Economic Zone
Project Description: Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) is a 169.5 square-kilometer site (42,000 acres) intended for 850,000 residents. The IFEZ project includes three areas: Songdo, Yeongjong, and Cheongna (Figure 1).
Figure 1. IFEZ: Songdo, Yeongjong, Cheongna areas
IFEZ seeks to attract international businesses, high technology industries (IT, BT, R&D), education facilities including foreign schools and medical industry facilities such as hospitals to the Songdo area. A Bio-Complex will be connected with Songdo Global University Campus and Songdo International Hospital.
Optimal Location: IFEZ is located in the middle section of the West coast of the Korean Peninsula, twenty five miles from Seoul. Sixty one Northeast Asian cities, each with more than one million inhabitants, are located within three hours flight time. The Northeast Asia region has a total of 1.7 billion people and generates a quarter of worldly gross domestic product. (Figure 2). Incheon International Airport, about 15 minutes’ drive from Songdo, is ranked No.1 by many noted global magazines.
Figure 2. Optimal Location of Songdo, IFEZ
Investments and Companies in Songdo: About half the construction of commercial buildings, residential areas and infrastructure has been completed, and the population had increased to 44,000 — including 800 foreigners — as of February, 2011. As of 2010, 328 companies had established offices in Songdo including IBM, GE Healthcare, Celltrion, GM DAEWOO, Crucell Berna, Schenker, Lippo Limited, N-Hitech, DynamicWave Telecom, and others. Chadwick International has opened its first international school in Songdo. A second international school is expected to open shortly. Major recent investments have also come from Cisco, the Samsung Group, the Lotte Group, the CJ Biotechnology Group, Korean Air, Valtion Teknilinen Tukimus keskus (VTT) or the Technical Research Centre of Finland, UN agencies, and Dong-a Pharmaceutical.
Demand for American Education in the Region: Korea, along with China and India, ranks as one of the top three nations in terms of sending the highest number of students to the United States. In a 2008 survey by South Korea’s National Statistical Office, 48.3 percent of South Korean parents said they wanted to send their children abroad to “develop global perspectives,” avoid the rigid domestic school system or learn English. It would be attractive for parents and students if Koreans or other Asian nationals could pursue U.S. degree programs in a location like Songdo where living expenses are cheaper, but the quality of education equals that of campuses in America.
Description of Songdo Global University Campus (SGU): The offshore campus is located in a Global University Campus zone occupying 295,000 square meters (73 acres). This cluster comprises a shared network of facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, offices, libraries, cafeteria, student union buildings and gymnasiums. On-campus dorms, staff and faculty quarters and guest houses are also available (Figure 3).
The IFEZ authorities seek to attract up to ten foreign universities, each providing “their most competent academic programs.” As a result, “the campus will be able to act as a comprehensive university as a whole.” Each university will grant its own degrees and be responsible for its own academic administration. A special independent administration (i.e., Songdo Global University Campus Foundation or SGUF) will manage campus facilities. SUNY Korea (State University of New York) is opening in February 2012 and will offer graduate program in two areas of study: computer science and technology and society (www.sunykorea.ar.ku). In 2013, Belgium’s Ghent University will begin offering undergraduate courses in biotechnology, environmental technology and food technology. University of Utah has signed an MOU and is planning to offer degrees in education. Alfred University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign also signed MOUs with IFEZ. Korean universities, too, have been successfully recruited. These include Yonsei University, Incheon University, and Gacheon University. The Seoul National University and Johns Hopkins University have also shown interest in building campuses at Songdo.
Figure 3: Sketch of Songdo Global University Campus