The Ministry of Education is offering scholarships as incentives to encourage Taiwanese students to pursue doctoral degrees abroad.
"This year is the first time that we implemented this type of scholarship program. One-hundred and forty selected students who are pursuing their PhD degrees abroad will be awarded with an annual scholarship of US$10,000 to US$20,000," Tony Lin (林文通), deputy director of bureau of international cultural and educational relations of the Ministry of Education said yesterday.
The deadline for this year's scholarship application was Nov. 1. All applications are now under review by the ministry and a list of scholarship recipients will be available in January next year.
The ministry plans to distribute applications around October every year.
"Students pursing their PhD degrees in the US will be awarded a US$20,000 scholarship annually, and those who are pursuing degrees in Europe will receive US$10,000 annually. With their application, candidates should include letters of acceptance from the schools where they are pursuing their doctoral degrees," Lin said.
In addition, the ministry is also offering low-interest overseas student loans. The loan program, which kicked off this year, aims to help students who are working toward a master's or a PhD degree abroad. The program also requires those eligible for the loan to have guarantors.
According to information provided by the ministry, the maximum loan available for a PhD candidate is NT$1.5 million, and a master's program student is NT$800,000.
"Currently, the ministry is working with about six banks to offer these loans. If the annual household income of a loan applicant falls under NT$1.14 million, the ministry will absorb the loan interest over the course of the degree program," Lin said.
The ongoing annual interest rate for the loan is 2.9 percent. The index for the loan interest rate follows the one-year loan interest rate offered at Chunghwa Post Co, but interest rates on the student loans is set to be slightly lower than the latter.
Interest rates will be halved for those whose annual household income is between NT$1.14 million and NT$1.2 million.
According to statistics by the ministry, the number of students who take examinations which allow them to study abroad on government-funds has decreased by half over the past few years. This year, only 1,129 signed up for the examinations, which was half of the number nine years ago.
The acceptance rate for the government-funded study abroad program is only 6 percent and only 76 out of 1,129 are selected.