The government will invest NT$500 million next year to send the nation's top students abroad for advanced study in 12 designated fields to avert a projected shortage of manpower in the science and technology sectors of major industries, the National Science Council (NSC) announced yesterday.
NSC Chairman Wu Maw-kuen (
Yu agreed to have the project launched on Dec. 15, when application brochures will be made available on the Web sites of relevant government agencies.
The deadline is Jan. 20 next year.
It is estimated that grants will be given to 874 students next year, with each student receiving up to NT$1.3 million. The results will be announced on March 30.
The budget allocated to the program is expected to be progressively increased, and officials hope to be able to help around 1,000 students by 2008.
The project was triggered by anxiety in the government as well as industrial circles about a dramatic decline in Taiwanese studying state-of-the-art technology overseas.
In 2002, the government announced the "Two Trillion, Twin Stars" economic development project to support the semiconductor and computer-display industries. According to projections, these two industries will reach an annual production value of above NT$1 trillion each within a few years. However, warning signals about a shortage of professionals have started to flicker.
Late last month, Wu joined university principals and high-ranking officials from the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) and the Ministry of Education on a fact-finding mission to San Francisco, where they attended a strategic meeting with college deans and professionals associated with the Academia Sinica.
At the meeting, 12 major fields were identified in which the country should promote study. They are basic science; biotechnology; graphic design; digital content; information and communication; semiconductor technology; energy; environmental and marine sciences; nanotechnology; the service industry (especially in the financial sector); international law; and the humanities and arts.
"We will also ask for donations from the industrial sector, because the project is designed to meet industry demand to a certain extent," CEPD Vice Chairman Hsieh Fa-ta (
According to Hsieh, any student determined to pursue a masters or doctoral degree can file an application, whether they have an admission letter from an overseas institution or not.
NSC Deputy Chairman Liao Chun-chen (
"For those who are awarded grants without being accepted at overseas schools, the NSC might even arrange possible destinations at world-class research institutes that have good relations with Taiwan," Liao said.
Students receiving financial support from the program will be obliged to return to Taiwan for a certain period of time after graduation.