Wed, Jul 07, 2010 - Page 3 News List

MAC defends subsidies for Chinese students

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday confirmed a subsidy program for Chinese graduate students studying in Taiwan, but said they were limited and selective.

The program provides Chinese graduate students studying in Taiwan with NT$30,000 a month in subsidies in addition to free roundtrip airfare and insurance. Some Chinese artists working in Taiwan can also receive government funding of up to NT$63,000 a month because of subsidies given out to artist groups that send them invitations.

The grants are administered under the MAC-run Chinese Development Fund, which receives NT$2 million a year to run the program. Funding for the Chinese artists is run as part of a separate program through indirect subsidies, said Shih Wei-Chuan (施威全), a senior secretary at the MAC.

“I think there’s a misperception that these subsidies are very popular, long-term and available to just about anybody — this is not the case,” he said.

He said that successful applicants, who number around a dozen in the graduate student program, only receive subsidies for two months. The amount provided to the group pales in comparison with the NT$400 million given out annually to other international students that come to Taiwan, Shih said.

He said the MAC has been winding down the program, which has been in place since the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration, in the past two years because of concerns over efficiency. Under the previous regime, 41 percent of applicants were approved, while the incumbent government has only approved 26 percent.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday called the subsidies a slap in the face for Taiwanese students who are often saddled with hundreds of thousands of NT dollars in debt by the time they graduate.

“These subsidies are just not fair to the Taiwanese student who has to work and attend school part-time just to make a living,” TSU ­Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said.

The subsidy for Chinese students is especially generous considering that the government was only willing to offer Taiwanese graduates job subsidies of up to NT$22,000 a month in a widely criticized internship program, he said.

Chia Teh-khiam (謝德謙), a doctoral student at National Taiwan University, said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration should pay closer attention to how local students view these subsidies amid a lagging economic environment.

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