Over 12,000 Taiwanese students are currently studying in China’s colleges and universities.
According to Wang Zhiwei, an official with the Ministry of Education who was speaking at a press conference held by the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, the Chinese government welcomes Taiwanese students and has continuously worked to formulate favourable policies for them to study on the mainland, reported XinhuaNet.
The ministry is allowing more mainland schools to enrol Taiwanese students and adjust majors to better meet their demands, he was quoted saying.
Wang added that China has also offered more scholarships to Taiwanese students, covering full-time junior college students, undergraduates, postgraduates and doctoral students. Over 7,000 Taiwan students obtained scholarships in the past three years.
According to Wang, preferential policies were drawn up to encourage Taiwanese students to work in China after graduating from, adding that support will also be given to Taiwanese teachers who work on the mainland.
Rolling out the red carpet
China hadn’t always practised a welcoming approach to Taiwanese students.
A report by Ozy notes that until 2011, China had maintained a strict cap on the number of Taiwanese students who could apply to mainland universities, with only those registering in the top 12 percent of Taiwan’s General Scholastic Ability Test permitted to apply.
But this changed in 2011 when it was increased to the top 25 percent of Taiwanese students, before it was relaxed even further in 2017, with anyone in the top half of the results table free to apply.
The US remains a top study abroad destination for Taiwanese students, with the number of students increasing in the past four years. Data from the Institute of International Education (IIE) shows that 23,369 students from Taiwan studied in the country during the 2018/19 academic year.
Despite that, China is also proving to be a strong contender in wooing Taiwanese students to its shores.
Why Taiwanese students flock to China
Last year, China Daily reported that the number of students from Taiwan who have applied to study at mainland universities had risen significantly in 2018, while applications to Xiamen University have soared, according to Tang Yonghong, deputy director of the Taiwan Research Centre at the college.
The report added that universities nationwide have also noticed the surge in applications from Taiwan. For instance, approximately 200 people have applied to Xiamen University alone, about five times the number last year.
Meanwhile, Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou received applications from some 600 students from the island, also about five times last year’s total, according to the admissions office.
At the time the report was written, statistics from the Ministry of Education show that 7,346 students from Taiwan studied at mainland universities in 2011; by 2015, the number had risen to 10,870.
Speaking to China Daily, Tang said the spike in the number of applications from Taiwan is a result of China’s rapid economic development and improvements in the quality of its higher education sector.
He also attributed China’s “more-favourable policies” as well as the country’s larger number of job opportunities compared with Taiwan as other factors.
“The island’s slowing economy means there are not enough jobs for graduates. Many have to leave the island to search for work. Studying at a mainland university will help them to become familiar with the local environment and also make friends before they begin searching for a job,” he was quoted saying.
“Most mainland companies treat these graduates the same as locals in terms of hiring, and the salaries for some jobs are actually higher than in Taiwan.”
Meanwhile, Taiwanese student Tsui Te-hui, a second-year law student at Tsinghua University, said: “Taiwan’s economy is slowing, so things are not looking optimistic and the future is uncertain. I wanted to explore the mainland to learn what people thought about things, so I applied to many colleges,” he said.