Taiwan is mulling recognizing diplomas from more Chinese universities, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said, as some Taiwanese schools expect that doing so could result in more Chinese students studying in this country.
Speaking at the opening of the 2013 National Conference of University and College Presidents at Fo Guang University on Monday, Ma said his administration is planning to expand the number of Chinese universities accredited in Taiwan from 41 to 112.
Under the plan, the 112 Chinese universities covered by China’s 1998 world-class universities development program announced by then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) would be accredited.
Ma said his administration was also considering allowing Chinese students to enroll at two-year colleges to increase the number of overseas students in local colleges.
Ma’s idea was welcomed by the conference attendees, although a number of them worried that the move could backfire and encourage more Taiwanese to study in Chinese universities instead of luring more Chinese students to Taiwan.
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said he hoped to give a report on the issue to the Legislative Yuan and expand the number of accredited Chinese universities this year.
He dismissed the concerns that it could result in an exodus of students to China because of the advantages local universities hold over their Chinese counterparts.
National Taiwan University president Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) shared Chiang’s view, saying it would help local universities attract Chinese students rather than the other way around.
Taiwan suffers from having too many universities and not enough students due to its low birth rate. Universities are eager to attract students from China and elsewhere.
National Cheng Kung University president Hwung Hwung-hweng (黃煌煇) said the increase in the number of accredited Chinese universities could expand the number of Chinese students universities in Taiwan may choose from without compromising their admittance standards, as long as the universities maintain requirements for accepting Chinese students.
Wu Ching-ji (吳清基), former education minister and president of the Taiwan Education University System, said the expansion would help balance educational exchanges between Taiwan and China because China already recognizes diplomas issued by all Taiwanese universities, while Taiwan only recognizes degrees from 41 Chinese universities.
According to the Mainland Affairs Council, the government has already opened applications from 41 colleges and universities in China, including the 39 schools under China’s “Project 985,” — a name given by Jiang at Peking University’s 100th anniversary in May 1998.
Project 211 is an endeavor launched by the Chinese government in 1995, aimed at strengthening about 100 institutions of higher education and key disciplinary areas as a national priority for this century.