Tue, Apr 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

China targeting students using stipends: source

By Rachel Lin, Jennifer Huang, Su Meng-chuan and William Hetheri  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The number of Taiwanese high-school graduates going to China for university studies has increased significantly since last year and China is seeking to increase those numbers further, a source said.

In the first six months of last year, 1,595 high-school graduates went to study abroad, about half of them in China, Ministry of Education statistics showed.

China has also relaxed requirements, admitting students based on average grades, rather than only considering top grades, and increasing the number of scholarships available for Taiwanese students, the source said, adding that China ultimately seeks to drain the nation of its most talented students.

Chinese statistics showed that the total number of Taiwanese students in that country was about 12,000 last year, double the total in 2011, the source said.

By comparison, the total number of Taiwanese studying in the US last year was about 21,000 and the total number studying in Europe was fewer than 10,000, they said, adding that China’s ability to attract Taiwanese is evidently growing.

Scholarships awarded to Taiwanese by the Chinese government rose to 18.72 million yuan (US$2.982 million) this year, up from about 7 million yuan in previous years, the source said, adding that universities in China have also begun offering free career counseling to Taiwanese in hopes of tying job-hunting and study together.

China’s poaching of Taiwanese university students began when it promoted three schools to children of Taiwanese businesspeople based in China, the source said.

In the past, 70 percent of those children would have returned to Taiwan for university study, but the number has slid to 50 percent, they said, adding that Chinese universities are also increasingly targeting high-school graduates in Taiwan.

Thirty students at Taichung Municipal Taichung First Senior High School this year requested recommendation letters from their principal for studies in China, up from six last year, they said.

Taichung Girls’ Senior High School also saw the number of students applying to Chinese universities increase to more than 30 this year, from 10 last year, while Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School this year had about 60 students expressing interest in applying to universities in China and Kaohsiung Municipal Kaohsiung Girls’ Senior High School had about 30 students looking to apply for Chinese universities this year, up from six last year, they said.

Students applying to Chinese schools had average marks between 66 and 70 points out of a total 75 points for the university entrance examinations, meaning that they are all top-tier students, they said.

When asked, some students said that the lack of a language barrier and cheaper tuition than US and European schools made Chinese universities attractive, the source said.

One university dean, who asked to remain anonymous, said that many students are under the “false impression” that studying in China would give them a more global mindset, urging the government to take action.

About 1,400 students go to study in China each year, but only about 800 of them go to schools recognized by the Taiwanese government, Deputy Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德) said, adding that students should be cautious about attending schools that award unrecognized degrees.

Taiwan offers academic freedom, low tuition and international exchange opportunities, Yao said, adding that the ministry would act to keep students at domestic institutions, but it is not pessimistic about the trend.

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