Chinese Students Face Financial Barriers in Taiwan

Chinese Students Face Financial Barriers in Taiwan
飽受高考制度煎熬的學生步出考場,如釋重擔,喜出望外。Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像
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A Chinese who tried to raise money to study in Taiwan has canceled her crowdfunding campaign after a barrage of online criticism. The case has sparked discussion about the costs facing Chinese students in Taiwan.

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A Chinese student who was admitted to the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University launched an online campaign earlier this month to raise about 50,000 RMB (US$7,500) for her college tuition fees, in a case that has drawn attention to the financial difficulties that a number of Chinese students face in Taiwan.

Soon after the student launched her campaign, hundreds of comments expressing disapproval were posted on the crowdfunding platform and other Chinese-language social media sites. Some people suggested that crowdfunding projects should have a broader public benefit, while others argued that the student’s target exceeded the amount required to study and live in Taiwan.

The student said she was influenced by the criticism and canceled the campaign three days after it was launched. The 6,700 RMB already raised was returned to donors.

Causes

The Taiwan Higher Education Union (THE Union) says that students from China (there are about 6,000 of them) have to pay double the normal tuition and show a financial statement of nearly US$15,000 to get enrolled in a college in Taiwan.

Moreover, with Chinese students barred from working while studying in Taiwan, the financial barriers have become an obstacle for some Chinese wishing to study here, says Lin Por-yee (林柏儀), chief of the organization department at THE Union.

Lin said that since 2011, overseas students who have enrolled in national universities in Taiwan have to pay tuition equal to that of private universities, which comes to nearly US$3,500 per year. This policy prevents more underprivileged foreign students from studying in Taiwan.

Due to stricter rules under Taiwan's “three limits, six noes” (三限六不) policy, Chinese students are not allowed to work in Taiwan before or after graduation, making it difficult to solve the problem of high tuition. Chinese students also have to show a financial statement of US$15,000, compared to the US$3,000 required of students from other countries.

Lin says most people think the higher tuition is reasonable because overseas students do not have to pay taxes. However, he says foreign students have to pay consumer tax and income tax, which is no different than local students. He suggests giving Chinese students working rights so they can take part-time jobs to reduce financial stress.

Rebecca Lan (藍先茜), deputy director-general of the Department of International and Cross-strait Education (DICE) under the Ministry of Education (MOE), claims that college tuition in Taiwan is much cheaper than in western and Southeast Asian countries. Many universities also offer scholarships and subsidies for Chinese students who require financial aid; raising tuition through crowdfunding is seen as a special case.

However, according to new research conducted by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC), average college tuition in Taiwan is the sixth-highest out of the 15 countries surveyed, only lower than the United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and the U.S.

Liu Chih-ming (劉智敏), assistant director-general of DICE, said the MOE will continue to help overseas students in Taiwan. The government is also gradually relaxing the “three limits, six noes” policy. Chinese students can now work as research assistants and teaching assistants.

Liu says that as the ban on Chinese students working in Taiwan is based on the “Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area,” loosening the policy would require negotiations between the two sides.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole