Wed, Sep 11, 2019 - Page 4 News List

New Southbound Policy: Ministry looking to improve exchanges

NEXT STEP:The Ministry of Education, having met its quantitative goals, is now shifting from output-based to outcome-based goals for every academic program

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Students from New Southbound Policy partner nations and their Taiwanese counterparts participate in a National Taiwan University of Science and Technology week-long boot camp in Taipei on July 23.

Photo: CNA

With 51,970 students from countries included in the government’s New Southbound Policy studying in Taiwan in the last academic year, the Ministry of Education exceeded its original target of 48,000 students — and is well on the way to outperform its expectations this academic year.

Since the policy was launched in 2016-2017, the number has grown by about 60 percent and students from policy nations in the last academic year made up more than 40 percent of the foreign students in Taiwan, up from 28 percent in the first year.

On the other side, Taiwanese students heading to the 18 nations covered by the policy reached 21,000 in the last academic year, a 34.7 percent increase from 2016-2017.

The number of young Taiwanese either interning or volunteering in those nations through government initiatives last year reached 3,500.

Department of International and Cross-strait Education Affairs Director-General Bi Tzu-an (畢祖安) said that the goals of the New Southbound Talent Development Program remain the same, but now that the quantitative goals have been met the ministry can begin allocating more resources to improving the quality of the exchanges.

“We’re entering version 2.0,” Bi said. “We are shifting from output-based to outcome-based goals for every scholarship, program and initiative. We used to look at how many scholarships we offered per year, but can these people develop into talent that can benefit both sides when they enter the workforce? Will they help support and deepen our network in [our partner countries]?”

In the past, many of the exchanges and recruitment were done between academic institutions or goverment-supported organizations, with overseas operations carried out by universities under three programs: Taiwan Connection, the Taiwan Education Center and the Resource Center for Economic and Industry-Academy Cooperation.

The ministry in November last year announced that it would be integrating the three programs.

Bi said that the decision is part of the ministry’s goal to increase government-to-government initiatives to better assure the quality of students, as well as their educational experience in Taiwan.

It would also reduce the need for third-party brokers, further streamlining the process, he said.

The ministry in June announced that a trial “2+i” program — which encourages Indonesian junior-college graduates to enroll in two-year technology programs in Taiwan —would be expanded.

Launched in September last year, it is an example of a government-to-government program: The Indonesian government selects the students and provides incentives, such as air tickets and a NT$20,000 stipend, while Taiwan takes care of admissions and tuition.

Third-party brokers do not take part in the process.

As Thailand and Indonesia steer the region’s economic development toward “Industry 4.0,” there is a pressing need for high-tech talent in management and research.

Over the past two years, several schools have established joint graduate degrees with their counterparts in target nations.

National Chiao Tung University (交通大學) in May established a joint doctoral degree program with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, adding to its existing dual-degree programs with four other IIT campuses. The program also aims to boost academic interaction between the schools since the research is carried out in both institutes.

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