Beijing halves number of approvals to study in Taiwan
Students of both China and Taiwan look poised to be the ones to lose the most from their countries' political relationship. Source: Shutterstock

Only 1,000 Mainland Chinese students will be given government approval to study at Taiwan, making this year’s cohort less than half the size of last year’s 2,136 students, South China Morning Post reports.

Taiwan’s University Entrance Committee for Mainland Chinese Students on Monday announced the cut, which is expected to adversely impact popular private universities who enroll the bulk of such scholars.

“Some of the more popular private schools will suffer more as these schools used to have more than 100 Mainland students enrolled,” privately-run Shih Chien University president Michael Chen said.

“If a university has 73 students from the Mainland each paying NTD100,000 (US$3,700) tuition and other fees a year, it will bring in NTD29.2 million in revenue in four years before those students graduate,” Chen said, adding the cut will come at a financial cost to the universities.

The slash comes amid recent increased tension between the two nations’ governments sparked by Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen’s refusal to acknowledge the One China policy since she was elected last May. Cross-strait talks and dialogues are now off the books as the acknowledgment, which China calls the political basis for such talks, is not forthcoming.

All is not lost for the island’s education sector, however, as Taiwan’s Education Ministry’s director-general of international and cross-strait education Yang Ming-ling said the government had other plans in place.

“The government has earmarked NTD1 billion for a project that includes luring talent and students from Southeast Asia and other Asian areas to work and study in Taiwan.” – Yang

Scholarships and other incentives will be on offer in hopes to recruit 60,000 students from other countries by 2019.

But with no sign of the tension between Beijing and Taipei abating soon, students of both countries look poised to be the ones to lose the most from their countries’ political relationship, or lack of.

National Policy Foundation vice-president Sun Yang-ming said the cut would not only affect cross-strait student exchanges, but also reduce the opportunities for Mainland students to learn about Taiwan.

“Worse yet, the Mainland is likely to cut further the number of students allowed to go to Taiwan to study in an attempt to step up pressure on Tsai,” Sun said.

Mainland students like Mang Hao who studies at Taipei’s Ming Chuan University want other Mainland students to see her university. They hope Taiwanese schools will issue pro-Beijing statements as per the Chinese government’s wishes.

“Although it’s very friendly to the students from the Mainland and the school environment is very beautiful, for people who never entered Taiwan, a commitment to China would make them more assured,” Wang said to Los Angeles Times.

A number of Taiwanese schools have made such statements to drive more enrollment from Mainland China, a trend which irritates Taiwanese officials although the island’s 152 higher education institutions face mergers or even closures as low birth rates threaten domestic enrollment and tuition income.

Taiwan’s Education Ministry data show non-degree students from China numbered 32,648 this year, dropping from 34,114 in the 2015/16 academic year after years of robust growth.

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