TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Universities see the recent anti-China sentiment in Hong Kong as an opportunity and have called on the Ministry of Education to allow more students from Hong Kong and Macau to study in Taiwan.
The number of students from Hong Kong and Macau pursuing higher education in Taiwan has been decreasing in recent years, probably due to low birth rate and the scholarships provided by the Chinese government. Facing pressure from the declining birth rate in Taiwan, universities hope the government can increase the quota for students from Hong Kong and Macau by 10 percent, reported the Liberty Times.
According to the University Entrance Committee for Overseas Chinese Students, students from the two semi-autonomous regions who attended the joint recruitment program peaked in 2014, with 6,177 applications from Hong Kong and 2,616 from Macau. However, only 2,416 students from Hong Kong and 996 from Macau applied this year.
Both the Ministry of Education and the committee agree that the shrinking number of students from Hong Kong is partly due to the declining birth rate, which saw the number of high school students drop by 8.6 percent last year. Moreover, the committee also pointed out that China has been recruiting more Hong Kong students by providing them with scholarships and other grants, reported the Liberty Times.
Lai Tsung-yu (賴宗裕), the dean of Academic Affairs at National Chengchi University (政治大學, NCCU), said that the enrollment of overseas Chinese students adds 10 percent to the total number of students in universities. Nevertheless, the government should expand the recruitment program under the New Southbound Policy by designating an extra 10 percent for students from Hong Kong and Macau.
In advance of the official joint recruitment organized by the government, some universities hold their own recruitment programs in Hong Kong. For example, NCCU enrolls 94 Hong Konger and Macanese students each year through the school’s recommendations and individual applications.
Michael J. K. Chen (陳振貴), the president of Shih Chien University (實踐大學), remarked that, in the joint recruitment program, private universities cannot always recruit as many students from Hong Kong and Macau as they want, so they have been recruiting independently for two years. The university holds an orientation in Hong Kong every August and encourages returning students to share their experience of studying in Taiwan with their high school back home.
Taiwan's dwindling birth rate is putting a strain on many colleges and universities, which means that the government should actively promote studying in Taiwan. Chen suggested that the government provide more opportunities and incentives for overseas students to work in Taiwan after graduation.