Fri, Mar 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

MOE may allow foreign students in public schools


The Ministry of Education (MOE) is discussing the possibility of allowing foreign students to study in junior and senior high schools, though officials are not sure when the plan might take effect.

At present schools only accept foreign students if they are here with their parents and have residential status.

An official surnamed Lin in the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations said foreign students under the age of 18 would need to have a guardian in the country in order to be admitted to a school.

The guardian would have to be assessed and authorized by Taiwan's overseas missions as well as local courts, Lin said.

"The process of selecting and authorizing the guardian is very strict," Lin said.

Guardians would be expected to have an annual income of at least NT$900,000 (US$28,125) to ensure that the student could be supported properly, he said.

The ministry has not discussed the idea with schools since it is still trying to hammer out regulations to cover the program. Officials said there is no timeframe for introducing the plan.

Schools would not be forced to admit foreign students, he said.

If a school wishes to accept foreign students, it would have to first register with its local education department, he said.

Private schools would probably be more willing to accept these students because public schools are under more pressure over the high school and college entrance examinations, Lin said.

Public high schools and colleges usually require a high entrance exam score and are geared towards preparing students for higher education.

Bureau Director Chang Chin-sheng (張欽盛) said the proposed regulations would help schools in this country gain a competitive edge internationally, according to local media reports.

Foreigners, however, would have to pay higher tuition than locals, Chang said. Tuition for foreigners at public schools would be raised to private school levels, or around NT$60,000 per semester.

Hung Hsueh-ching (洪雪卿), head of student affairs at Kuang Jen Senior High School, a private institution, said that the school had not heard of the proposed regulations but if detailed plans were made, foreigners would be welcomed.

Hung said that the school has had foreign students before, but they were here with their parents and the school offered extra classes in the evenings and on weekends in Chinese, history and geography to help them keep up.

Yang Shih-juei (楊世瑞), head of student affairs at the public Taipei First Girls' High School, said that one main concern was that foreign students would not be able to keep up with coursework.

It would be better if students received Chinese lessons at a language school before coming to Taiwan, Yang said.

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