MOE confirms first-time Indonesian students not among those cleared to enter Taiwan

With exception of 19 approved countries, first-time international students barred from entering Taiwan for fall semester enrollment

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First-time students from only 19 countries currently allowed to enter Taiwan for fall classes.

First-time students from only 19 countries currently allowed to enter Taiwan for fall classes. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid much speculation over whether first-time students can, in fact, enter the country, the Taiwan Education Center (TEC) Indonesia is urging the more than 500 Indonesian students who have been accepted into Taiwanese degree programs, and who are hoping to be allowed back into Taiwan for the fall semester, to contact their universities immediately.

Previously, the MOE released a list of 19 countries from which new or returning international students can enter Taiwan to start or continue their degrees. Indonesia was not included on this list, and only graduating students from the Southeast Asian country have been allowed to return so far.

On Thursday (Aug. 6), TEC Surabaya (Indonesia), which was established under the auspices of the MOE, sent out an announcement to students warning of the possibility they would not be granted entry into Taiwan in time for fall 2020 and that they may not even be able to get approved for student visas until the end of August. The office recommended that students immediately contact their universities to verify their status and inquire whether further steps are needed.

According to the president of PERPITA (the Indonesia Student Organization in Taiwan), Elizabeth Milenova, there are approximately 500 first-time Indonesian students who have been admitted into undergraduate programs in Taiwan and are still waiting to enter the country, in addition to graduate and Ph.D. students.

"We'd thought the [main] concern was about quarantine locations since there are many Indonesian students coming. The Indonesian Student Organization is already actively helping find places for these students to quarantine, but there has still been no confirmation of any student visas for Indonesian students at this point."

Later on Thursday, TEC Indonesia released an update on the issue:

"In light of the news circulating about the VISA application, TEC Indonesia has already coordinated with the Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) Surabaya and TETO Jakarta, emphasizing that there will be no Study Visa released for students from Indonesia."

An MOE spokesperson told Taiwan News that "Indonesia is a country from which the ministry accepts overseas “degree students” to come to Taiwan to continue their studies (excluding Indonesian 'new students')." Degree students will be subject to campuses' COVID-19 epidemic prevention measures. Restrictions on new students may be relaxed depending on future determinations."

The MOE defines "degree" students as students who have retained their student visas from last semester when they were enrolled in any kind of degree program in Taiwan.

As of the spring semester of this year, Indonesia was the second-largest source of foreign students in Taiwan. Students from the country have previously created petitions urging the Taiwanese government to lift visa restrictions for all international students, especially for new ones.

The MOE said it was not available for comment when asked for clarification on Friday (Aug. 7).