WITH JUST 1,600 Thais studying in its territory, Taiwan is working hard to boost educational ties with Thailand.
Not only is education in Taiwan very affordable, with tuition fees for undergraduate and graduate schools at less than US$2,000 (Bt65,000) per semester, but more than 11 universities in the country have been listed among top Asian institutions by QS Asia University Ranking.
“Thai students will also benefit from Taiwan’s technological and educational strengths,” Dr Tung Chen Yuan, representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office told The Nation.
Taiwan has also been offering 20 to 25 full scholarships that cover tuition fees and living allowances exclusively for Thais, with the aim of providing human resources for the 10 industries that are part of the Thailand 4.0 scheme, Tung said.
“We are trying to bridge Taiwan’s educational advantage with the Thai government’s goal, so we can promote more economic cooperation in the future,” he said.
Thailand 4.0 scheme targets digital economy, medical tourism, agriculture and biotechnology, robotics, aviation, medical technology, among other things. This aims to help the Kingdom escape the so-called middle-income trap.
Apart from this, Taiwan is also encouraging Taiwanese students to seek internships in Thailand, so they can not only learn the Thai language, but also gain a wider knowledge of Thai culture, economy, politics and the business climate, Tung explained.
“This is a win-win solution for Thailand and Taiwan,” he said, adding that these internships will boost Taiwan investment in Thailand, as investors will be able to communicate in Thai, English and Mandarin and also understand both cultures.
He explained that education is the foundation of stronger understanding among people, and can also boost tourism, trade and investment in the long run.
In a move to increase the number of Thai students, Taiwan is making the visa process easier by increasing the number of hospitals qualified for mandatory health examinations and cutting the requirements for Chinese proficiency tests for students aiming to study Mandarin.
Information on scholarships can be found on Taiwan’s official website (www.roc-taiwan.org). The country’s economic and cultural office, apart from promoting education opportunities in Taiwan via social media and exhibitions, has also published 10 reasons why Thais should study in Taiwan.
In 2017, only 1,600 of the more than 100,000 international students enrolled in Taiwanese universities were Thai, a low number compared to Malaysia (16,051), Indonesia (5,074) and Vietnam (4,774), according to World Education News Review.
These initiatives are part of Taiwan President Tsai Ing Wen’s new “Southbound Policy”, which was introduced in 2016 to strengthen ties in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in Asean.
In the long run, the pro-independence Taiwanse government hopes to boost trade and investment in other regions so it can stop depending on China. Currently nearly half of its goods are shipped to mainland China.