TAIPEI, Taiwan - Within the next few years, Taiwan will become a higher education center for Asian-Pacific students, said President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday when he visited Taichung City to attend a meeting for university principals.
The president described education as more than just an industry based on good conscience, but also one that can be operated and managed as a successful enterprise.
There are currently only 20,000 foreign students in the nation, 30,000 if you include those who are here to learn Chinese or on exchange, Ma said. The future goal is to attract more Southeast Asian and Asian Pacific students and turn Taiwan into a higher-education hub in the region.
According to numbers compiled by the Ministry of Education (MOE), there are currently around 10,000 students from Southeast Asia in Taiwan, making up 55 per cent of all foreign students. The government's goal is to increase that number to 15,000 by 2012, and to 17,000 students by 2014.
Ma said among the ten countries that make up Southeast Asia, an average 20 per cent go on to pursue higher education after high school. Taiwan boasts a college acceptance rate of over 90 per cent.
Add onto that, the relatively affordable tuition and there is much reason to increase recruitment of Southeast Asian students, turning the education industry into a goal-oriented enterprise, he added.
The president cited another advantage for studying in Taiwan as the fact that the nation uses traditional Chinese characters for everything, which is appealing to those who may want to explore and study historical Chinese classics.
Using the US as an example, Ma said there are around 600,000 foreign students who study in the US every year, generating around NT$600 billion (S$26.64 billion) in revenue.
Ma also gave examples through foreign studies, which estimate that Taiwan's education of the Chinese language should be able to attract 100,000 foreign students, which would greatly diversify Taiwan's college campus culture.
-- The China Post/Asia News Network