Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chinese Students to Come

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has been working on plans to allow students from China to study in Taiwan's universities. The local university count, now up to 170, is much too high and even though Taiwan's high school students were almost all permitted to enter college under the new national testing system, there are not enough local students.

What happened was that during the 1990s and under the later DPP administration, subsidies to universities increased rapidly, and many conglomerates with a construction company opened universities as a way to farm the government for subsidy money. Private universities, after all, are for-profit entities and many of them quietly return profits to their owners. When a university has a certain level of facilities, for example a lighted track -- a least one university I know qualified with a track paved with tarmac -- and a certain number of students, it automatically qualifies for subsidies. The government is unwilling to shut down universities though many are unneeded, partly because they function as jobs programs for the PHD holders Taiwan is also now churning out in overly large quantities. This cycle of subsidy - expansion - more subsidy - more expansion appears to have hit its limit. Thus one proposed solution has been importing warm bodies from China.

During the election Ma promised to do this, and now the numbers are in:

Under the plan, Chinese students from universities and colleges with “distinguished academic reputations” would be allowed to study in the country, with numbers limited to between 0.5 percent and 1 percent of total nationwide enrollment at colleges, four-year technology institutions and two-year junior technological and vocational education colleges.

The estimated number of Chinese students coming to Taiwan to study each year would be between 1,000 and 2,000, based on the 200,000 vacancies at 170 institutions nationwide, Vice Minister of Education Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳) told the press conference.

Some of the local papers were reporting that the students would receive Taiwan government scholarships but the MOE has ruled that out: no gov't scholarships for these students. Other restrictions, such as no future residency or jobs here in Taiwan, would also apply. Like the promised tourist bonanza from China that hasn't materialized, the number is too low to have any marked effect on the university system here.


Haitien said...

IIRC, the top universities in Taiwan (NTU, NCKU... etc) have no shortage of domestic applicants. What makes the government think that Chinese students would even want to attend the sort of diploma mill school that wants this thing to go through so badly?

Anonymous said...

1) Ma is ready and willing to help Chinese students a much as possible, but where is the legislation that acknowledges the degrees of Taiwanese who have studied in China???

Anonymous said...

This is Ma's way of trying to colonize Chinese. "Maybe if they come to Taiwan we make them more like us because they are lacking..."

Tommy said...

I had the same reaction as haitien. Why would a Chinese student choose to cross the strait just to go to a more expensive diploma mill?

Ling Ying Lu said...

I have the same question as haitien and thomas. Also, I just don't understand why so many college principals support the policy and fantasizing of recruiting more students?

In addition, from my experience in foreign countries, most Chinese students actually condemn the independent idea of Taiwanese. Most of them are 'washed' throughly.

Anonymous said...

I think from my interaction with young Chinese... the experience of growing up in the PRC has imbued in many young Chinese a sense of national pride (i.e. PRC pride) and they may wish to remain in the PRC or go to countries with a solid "brand" in education that they could better leverage for gain at home. Taiwan is still often considered by Chinese to be a backwater, just a very wealthy backwater.

Haitien said...

In theory, I'm really not opposed to letting some Chinese students over the same way we let international students come in.

What I really have a problem with is the fact that like much of their economic policy, the government seems to be treating this as a cure all solution, without really addressing the underlying problem (diploma mills with low academic standards). Instead of trying to raise standards, they're trying to get away with lowering them.

Anonymous said...

haiten: Because 1) there are plenty of Chinese willing to go to diploma mills in China and 2) Taiwan's like a tourist paradise for lots of Chinese.

But you're right, Taiwan really shouldn't be in this kind of business. It should be trying to recruit really good students from China to attend the top universities you mention. It'd increase their competitiveness significantly.

Dixteel said...

The only concern I really have with this policy is how much sacrifice Taiwan needs to take to make this happen. If there are not much changes just to accomedate Chinese students (like no national flags in school, excluding traditional Chinese, preferential of Chinese students instead of Taiwanese students because they pay more money etc), then it might be ok...otherwise I suggest those university and high school students start making their voice heard because its their life and their problems, unfortunately.

I am not actually too concerned about the result right now because like the Chinese tourists scheme I think it might not work out well and thus won't have huge impact.

Taiwanese schools have to watch out for potential harm this can do to them as well because I just read a news about UK Newcastle University caught and discharge 20 or so Chinese students and 1 Taiwanese students due to fake degree yesterday...and people who have factories or offices in China have pointed out degree and diploma forgery could be quite rampant in China.