Alumni support takes Leeds to South Korea

Alumni news

Each year, a pioneering exchange programme enables students from the University of Leeds and KAIST University to tackle global challenges together.

“The programme is transformational,” says Ben Oldham, Head of Global Opportunities at Leeds. “Afterwards, they approach challenges with a completely different outlook.” 

Generously funded by Dr. and Mrs Byiung J. Park, the Leeds KAIST International Leadership Programme brings together 15 Leeds students and 15 KAIST students to develop solutions to UN Sustainability Goal 11 – making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.  

“Alternating between Leeds and Daejeon each year, Leeds students work alongside peer students at KAIST University,” says Ben. “Not only do they develop real solutions, the programme helps them to develop a global perspective on problem solving, cultural intelligence and strong leadership skills.” 

From 12 to 19 July, Leeds students will attend workshops, guest speeches and networking opportunities with business leaders in Daejeon. An alumni event will be held during the week, presenting an opportunity for students to learn from the global Leeds community. 

Supporting the next generation 

The programme exists thanks to the generous support of Leeds alum Dr Byiung J Park – for whom the opportunity to cross cultural boundaries and knowledge share was invaluable during his time at Leeds – and Mrs Chunghi Park.  

Members of the Leeds alumni community in South Korea will also share their experience and knowledge with students. An alumni event will provide networking and learning opportunities – with speakers including Sean Blakeley (English and History 2002), Managing Director at PwC in South Korea. 

A unique approach 

The removal of financial and academic barriers ensures the programme is open to all. “Places are highly sought after, with over 200 Leeds applications in 2023,” says Ben. “Fully funded places are awarded based on a video application.” It is a unique process in which students must demonstrate an interest in the programme, understanding of the agenda and highlight the personal benefits to them.  

Criminal Justice and Criminology student Alex Simpson-Hayter was successful in gaining a place this year: “I’m really excited about the programme,” she says. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit South Korea and work with like-minded individuals from different cultures across the world. I’m interested in working in social action and corporate social responsibility in the future, and this programme provides an opportunity to discover how businesses in South Korea are finding solutions.” 

It also gives students the opportunity to workshop real-world solutions of their own, with expertise on hand from academics and fellow students from various disciplines.  They will share their work with the group in a final presentation.  

“Interestingly, solutions developed in South Korea have often been technology-driven, whereas solutions developed on trips to Leeds have been focussed around community engagement, social impact and social justice,” says Ben. “It is a further example of the cross-cultural influences and learning.” 

A global outlook 

The programme represents just one opportunity for Leeds students to develop their leadership skills on the global stage.  

In December 2022, the Online Global Leadership Forum brought together over 200 students across all levels and disciplines to engage with a global network of visionary leaders.  

And an alumni-supported undergraduate research exchange between Leeds and KAIST allows engineering students from KAIST to study at Leeds, while engineering students from Leeds attend the Research Summer School at KAIST. 

Further information 

Learn more about the programme on the Leeds KAIST International Leadership Programme website.

For further details, email Ed Newbould, Digital Communications Officer, University of Leeds at