The latest data shows that there was a slight increase in the number of Taiwanese students studying abroad last year, bringing the total number to 60,839, the Ministry of Education said, adding that the number of Taiwanese students in the UK increased while those studying in the US decreased slightly.
More than 23,000 Taiwanese students went to the US for educational purposes last year, while about 2,800 went to Canada, data showed.
There were about 19,000 Taiwanese studying in Europe, most of whom were in the UK, data showed.
More than 7,000 Taiwanese choose to study abroad in Asia, with the majority choosing Japan, 7,200 going to Australia and 1,400 to New Zealand, data showed.
The overseas Taiwanese student population grew by 1,000, but the number of Taiwanese students in the UK rose from 4,600 to 16,000, it added.
Vice Minister of Education Chen Te-hua (陳德華) said that despite the seeming increase of overseas Taiwanese students in the UK, the US remained the main destination for academic purposes.
“The reason so many Taiwanese are choosing to study in the UK is due to recruitment by educational facilities there,” Chen said.
Ministry officials added that the majority of students went to the UK for higher education or to gain certificates in subjects such as art or jewelry design.
However, the Institute of International Education’s data showed that in contrast to the sudden boom in Taiwanese students heading to the UK, the US has seen a consecutive decline of Taiwanese students over the past six years.
China last year became the country with the most students in the US, with 235,000, or 30 percent of the total international student body in the US, data showed.
The numbers of students from Vietnam and Saudi Arabia going to the US were also on the rise, while Taiwanese declined by 20 percent, or 7,000 students, and Japanese decreased from 45,000 to 19,000, or nearly 60 percent, data showed.
When parents were asked which country they would send their children for educational purposes, one parent surnamed Yang (楊) said he would send his child to England.
“Studying abroad is not just about gaining a diploma, it is also about learning about foreign cultures and unfamiliar environments,” Yang said.
“Taiwan’s international outlook is in essence the same as the US,’ and children are less familiar with Europe and the UK,” Yang said, adding that by sending his child to the UK he would be opening new horizons for them.