The nation’s universities are preparing to attract top-notch students from China, an official from the Ministry of Education said yesterday.
Despite a decade of cultural exchanges, Taiwan has barred Chinese students from studying for college degrees, fearing that they could bring unwelcome political influences or compete for jobs.
Deputy Minister of Education Lin Tsung-ming (林聰明) said students from 40 leading Chinese universities could apply to study in Taiwan if the legislature approves amendments to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the University Act (大學法) and the Vocational School Act (專科學校法).
If amendments to the three laws clear the legislative floor before the current session goes on recess on Tuesday, Chinese students will be able to start enrollment in Taiwan in September.
Lin said Chinese students coming to study in Taiwan would fit nicely into the school system.
“We would like to provide the mainland students a better understanding of our democratic and pluralistic society,” he said. “The new program can also spur welcome competition. Mainland students are known for their diligence. They can stimulate our students to study harder.”
To ease public worries, Lin has set heavy restrictions on the new program, limiting the annual intake of Chinese students to 2,000, and preventing them from seeking local employment after their studies end.
Students from China will also be barred from receiving public scholarships, though Lin said many Taiwanese universities are now raising private funds to help attract them to their schools.
Officials say about 200 Chinese college students are now studying in Taiwan on one-year exchange programs.
At a separate setting yesterday, Minister of Education Wu Ching-chi (吳清基) said the government’s policy of allowing Chinese students to study in Taiwan would help alleviate the under-enrollment problem faced by many domestic colleges and universities as a result of the declining birth rate.
Saying that only half of the 10 million Chinese students graduating from senior high schools every year enroll in universities, Wu added that Taiwan could target the remaining 5 million students and recruit some of them to study in Taiwan.
Chen Chen-kuei (陳振貴), president of the Association of Private Universities and Colleges of Technology, said the declining birth rate has led to serious under-enrollment in vocational schools.
Chen said that 12,000 openings would be left unfilled in vocational schools this year and that the number would increase to 90,000 in 2016. He said that vocational schools should recruit more overseas students to solve the problem.
Also yesterday, the Legislative Yuan barred a bid by the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to allow exam-free admission to Taiwanese schools for children of Chinese professionals working in Taiwan.
The MOI was hoping to achieve the goal by amending several laws governing cross-strait affairs.
While reviewing the MOI-proposed amendments, the legislature’s Interior Affairs Committee determined that the bills violate the fundamental law of education that promises “equal opportunity in education.”
The committee decided to return the bills to the MOI and demanded that the MOI make proper revisions to them within one month.
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