Tue, May 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Academic freedom appeals to Hong Kongers: official

By Rachel Lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwan’s academic freedom attracts students from Hong Kong and Macau, said Hsu Jui-hung (許睿宏), a Ministry of Education official stationed in Hong Kong

Hsu said in an interview with the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) that about 8,000 students come to Taiwan from the two territories each year — up from 2,500 in previous years — and they are drawn to the academic environment that protects freedom of speech.

Students from Hong Kong are invariably interested in Taiwanese political affairs, Hsu said, citing the 2014 Sunflower movement and last year’s presidential and legislative elections.

Hsu said that he attended an education fair in Macau and spoke with the parent of a student who studied in Taiwan.

“After I sent my son to visit several universities in China to inquire about academic exchanges, he said he wanted to study in Taiwan saying that there were fewer academic restrictions,” Hsu quoted the father as saying, adding that the nation’s level of safety also contributed to the decision.

Hsu said that in Hong Kong only about 25 percent of high-school graduates are accepted into universities, with most people studying overseas.

Taiwanese universities offer students science faculties and multifaceted research opportunities, Hsu said, adding that Hong Kong’s science faculties are comparatively more traditional.

Taiwanese universities have the advantage of being able to offer student accommodation given their larger campuses, he said, adding that larger campuses also means more space for equipment and research facilities.

“Tuition here is less than a quarter of that in Hong Kong. HK$50,000 [US$6,428] is not enough to pay for one year of study in Hong Kong. In Taiwan, that is enough for four years of university,” Hsu said. “Some Taiwanese professors are so friendly that they have been known to have late-night snacks with students while they do research,” he added.

Hsu said studying in Taiwan could also open doors to other international education experiences for visiting students, citing changes in the nation’s university policies that recognize credits obtained elsewhere.

There are 140 Taiwanese universities recruiting students in at fairs and via direct recruiting at more than 500 high schools in Hong Kong, he said.

“Although Taiwan’s schools are facing an enrollment crisis caused by the aging population, there are recruitment opportunities elsewhere — not just in Hong Kong and Macau, but in Southeast Asia too,” Hsu said. “Taiwan has competitive universities that should not be undervalued.”

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