The ministry launches a plan to attract foreign students

The program targets overseas Taiwanese and foreigners who know the basics of Mandarin and English, and participating universities would receive a grant of NT$1 million.

  • By Rachel Lin and Liu Tzu-hsuan/staff reporter, with a staff writer

Given the country’s low birth rate, the Ministry of Education is encouraging public and private universities to launch “special international programs” to attract overseas Taiwanese and foreign students who may not be fluent in Mandarin .

The policy, which is expected to start in August, aims to enroll 1,000 students majoring in manufacturing, construction, agriculture and long-term care, the ministry said, adding that the government hopes to triple the number of Taiwanese students. and foreigners abroad, rising from 14,000 currently. to 42,000 in 2030.

Only students with A2-level Mandarin are currently allowed to study in Taiwan, with the only exception being the new southbound international industry-university collaboration programs, which do not require students to be fluent in Mandarin.

Photo: Rachel Lin, Taipei Times

Students enrolling in “special international programs” should know basic Mandarin and English before coming to Taiwan, the ministry said.

After learning Mandarin for a year and reaching A2 level, they can specialize in four areas – manufacturing, construction, agriculture and long-term care – or take specialized courses under the curriculum, the ministry said.

However, they are required to pass B1 level Mandarin when they are in their second year, he added.

Universities should offer at least 15 hours of Mandarin lessons per week and at least 720 hours per year, the ministry said, adding that it would provide participating universities with a grant of NT$1 million (US$34,837) and would offer a grant of NT$50,000 to each student taking Mandarin classes, he added.

Only universities that have had no recruitment problems in the last three years and have strong language teaching and counseling resources can participate, said the deputy director general of the Department of Higher Education Chu Chun-chang (朱俊彰).

Most university presidents supported the plan, but expressed concern that the incentives offered might not be enough, as the initial quota of international students has yet to be met.

National Sun Yat-sen University President Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) said learning Mandarin for a year could help Taiwanese and foreign students abroad achieve better academic success.

However, providing quality education is more crucial to attracting international students, Cheng added.

National Chi Nan University President Wuu Dong-sing (武東星) said Taiwan is a springboard for many Taiwanese and international students abroad to study, work and live in Europe and the United States. .

The one-year Mandarin learning policy is attractive to students who are not fluent in Chinese, but the key to retaining talent is offering higher salaries so they stay in Taiwan to work after graduation. graduation, he said.

Besides the special programs for international students, which focus on enrolling undergraduates, there is another route Taiwanese and foreign students can take to study in Taiwan, Chu said.

Departments that focus on key industrial areas, such as intelligent mechanics, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, green energy technologies, national defense and circular economy can enroll undergraduate and graduate students superiors, he said.

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