Wed, May 25, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Education best way to promote ‘go south’ policy

By Chen Sinn-wen 陳信文

“Go south” is a key policy of the new government, and it has established a “New Southbound Policy Office” to push the policy.

Several government officials have pushed for the government to place greater importance on Southeast Asia and proposed various ways on how this can be achieved.

Indeed, the whole world is turning its focus to the development and potential of ASEAN states, with major economies investing in these nations.

Great minds think alike, and many Taiwanese universities have also adopted a southbound policy in recent years, as they try to attract outstanding Southeast Asian students.

Last week, nearly 30 universities and academic institutions — including National Tsing Hua University, National Chengchi University, China Medical University and Tamkang University — participated in the Taiwan Higher Education Fair in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Organized by National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, the fair was a show of support for the government’s southbound policy. Taiwanese school representatives also visited four universities near the city.

With a population of 68 million and a land area of more than 510,000km2, Thailand is a leading member of ASEAN. Geographically, it lies at the center of ASEAN, highlighting its importance in the region’s development. It also boasts a relatively high level of education.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2015/2016, Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University ranked No. 253 in the world and Mahidol University ranked No. 295, while five of its schools ranked among the world’s top 700 universities.

Taiwan still has an edge in the quality of education compared with Thailand, but the gap is not substantial.

The educational attainment of many students from Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations is high and such students are intelligent enough to study at Taiwanese universities that suit them best.

As the title of a 2005 bestseller states, The World is Flat, as talent and resources are flowing across the world.

To maintain its competitive edge, Taiwan should not only cultivate globally competitive talent, it should also work to attract people from other parts of the world to join its talent pool.

Making use of an advantage offered by its excellent standard of higher education, the nation should try to encourage outstanding students from ASEAN nations to study in Taiwan. This is likely to be the best way for Taiwan to attract talent.

The enrollment of outstanding foreign students would help increase the talent pool in the nation and create a more international atmosphere on university campuses. For Taiwanese students, that would serve as great peer education and a stimulus, and it would help schools achieve their goal of cultivating talent with an international outlook.

Outstanding students should be allowed to stay in Taiwan after graduation to enhance the Taiwan-ASEAN partnership.

Taiwan must continue its efforts abroad to attract foreign talent.

Chen Sinn-wen is vice president of global affairs at National Tsing Hua University.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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