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Indonesian students urge Taiwan to lift visa restrictions for new students

Petition urges Taiwanese government to allow entry of all Indonesian students wishing to attend fall semester classes

National Taiwan University Indonesian Student Association students on June 8, 2020. 

National Taiwan University Indonesian Student Association students on June 8, 2020.  (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Indonesians hoping to study in Taiwan are nervous that the government’s travel restrictions have not yet been lifted for most university students from the Southeast Asian country as the fall semester quickly approaches.

Nearly 4,000 students from Indonesia have been waiting for confirmation as to when they can enter the country to continue their studies, ETT reported.

Taiwan's Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday (July 22) announced that students from countries not on the "low-risk" list who are in the final year of their degrees or hold an Alien Residency Card (ARC) are allowed to return to the country as long as they undergo a 14-day quarantine at designated places. Indonesia is not on the list of 19 countries and regions deemed to be at low-risk of coronavirus, which MOE on July 15 said can send students to Taiwan regardless of degree progress.

Neither the MOE nor the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has announced a date for the resumption of student visas for new students and exchange students coming from the archipelago.

In response, a number of Indonesian students have created a petition to pressure the government to lift the ban on Indonesians enrolled in classes in Taiwan out of concern they will not be able to keep up with their lessons when school starts, according to Taiwan-based Indonesian news agency Nihao Indonesia.

The petition refers to discrimination by the Taiwanese government as a possible reason for not lifting the ban. It was signed by hundreds of Indonesian students hoping to be permitted to enter Taiwan as soon as possible. The CECC said it is discussing the issue, UDN reported.

Indonesia is the second-largest source of foreign students in Taiwan. The country has recorded 93,657 cases of COVID-19, including 4,576 deaths, in the three months since its first confirmed case.