The government on Monday urged doctoral candidates, young academics and students looking to study abroad to apply for Taiwanese Overseas Pioneers Grants, as an increase in applicant numbers for programs at foreign universities has lead to more competitive situations at many institutions highly regarded by Taiwanese.
Of the 468 Taiwanese who finished their doctorates abroad in the past two years, only 51 studied in the field of humanities and social sciences, with the rest being awarded degrees in science and technology-related subjects, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.
National Applied Research Laboratories acting president Lin Bou-wen (林博文) said that it is more difficult for students in the humanities and social sciences to obtain scholarships and find a job after graduation, which makes the field less attractive for those who wish to study abroad.
The decline in Taiwanese students who pursue overseas degrees in this field comes as Chinese and Indians are increasingly applying for those programs, the ministry said, adding that it is concerned that the trend undermines Taiwanese students’ opportunities.
Taiwanese Overseas Pioneers Grants have over the past three years been given to 75 doctoral candidates and young academics, it said.
The ministry said it hopes that the program would in the future welcome more students in the humanities and social sciences, as the grants would alleviate their financial concerns and enable them to focus on their theses and other academic work.
Doctoral candidates can receive up to NT$900,000 a year, while young academics can get up to NT$600,000, it said.
The program also sponsors the publication of academic books with up to NT$200,000, the ministry added.
Evita Liu (劉懷清), a doctoral student in the business administration and management department of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, said that the grant helped her significantly during the last stages of writing her thesis, as she did not have to work as a teaching assistant during that time to make ends meet.
The ministry also announced 25 students who have been approved for the program last year.
The application process for this year begins in April, the ministry said.
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences Director Lin Ming-jen (林明仁) said that the program might be expanded to support established academics.
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