Collaborative overseas programs, cross-border education and internship, and international academic exchange. Taiwan’s higher education need to be prepared for the globally competitive marketplace!
Chief Editor/ Kiara Fu
Media Coordinator/ Chih-Wei Hung
Text/ Xin-Yi Chen
Photography/ Wen-Feng Xu, Cheng-Hsien Hsieh, Chih-Wei Hung
The young generation in Taiwan is confronting stiff challenges in terms of its global competitiveness.
Challenge I: Senior high school students tend to study abroad soon after they graduated.
According to the Ministry of Education’s statistics, the number of senior high school students who choose to study abroad after graduation has increased since 2010 and approximated 1,500 by 2015. In addition, following the trend towards education market globalization, prestigious universities across the world have tried the whole bag of tricks to enroll new students, making themselves great attractions for a rising number of Taiwanese new graduates.
Challenge II: Taiwan has suffered a huge brain drain.
The vexing brain-drain problem exists not only among Taiwan’s new graduates from senior high schools but also among young talents. In an article published in August 2017, the AmCham Taipei pointed out that Taiwan has suffered a huge brain drain. The statistics released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics of Executive Yuan indicated that, by 2015, around 720,000 Taiwanese live and work abroad, and 58% of them are in China.
Challenge III: Taiwan is undergoing the crisis of sub-replacement fertility.
Schools in Taiwan are facing the crisis of sub-replacement fertility. The Ministry of Education’s statistics suggested that the number of new entrants to Taiwan’s colleges/universities may continue to dwindle from 250,000 by 2016 to around 160,000 by 2028.
To alleviate the crises of brain drain and sub-replacement fertility, a group of people with the aspiration towards internationalizing Taiwan’s higher education have dedicated themselves to creating a favorable environment for the young talents who choose to stay in their home country.
This group of people have brought considerable energy and enthusiasm to their roles, helping young talents in Taiwan improve their competitiveness and prepare for fierce global competition by means of international academic exchange, collaborative short-term programs, as well as cross-border education and internship.
They deserve a reward for all their efforts.
In order to identify those who mastermind the endeavor behind the scenes, the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET) carefully selected three exemplars of bilateral higher education exchange in March 2017 from a total of 149 entries of 44 colleges/universities. The perfect fusion of innovation sharing and reciprocal exchange is the common feature of the three stellar examples:
- ◎ The bilateral exchange between National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and Thailand’s Kasetsart University
- ◎ The internship programs for students of Oriental Institute of Technology at Malaysian and Chinese enterprises
- ◎ The Asian Community Leadership Seminar organized by Tamkang University
In July 2017, FICHET’s executive officers, Kiara Fu and Chih-Wei Hung, not only personally visited the three foregoing academic institutions, but also interviewed their faculty members and students, thereby documenting the ways they get internationalized and their common characteristics with a close-focus and in a down-to-earth manner.
Characteristic I: Carving out their own niches and mustering energy for cooperation
International higher education exchange is featured by a vibrant mix of cooperation and competition. To ensure effective cooperation with foreign institutions, carving out our own niches is absolutely necessary. Be it National Pingtung University of Science and Technology known for its College of Agriculture, Tamkang University which features trans-disciplinary futures studies, or Oriental Institute of Technology which has extensive experience of internship programs, they all strive to establish their own niches as a way to forge sustainable mutual trust and reciprocal exchange with their international counterparts.
Characteristic II: Undying devotion with solidarity
Continuous and single-minded pursuit of “internationalization” is the second common characteristic of the three academic institutions. “There is no shortcut to good education,” as the saying goes, which means that education is a long-term process involving continuous effort, passion and perseverance. So does the pursuit of “internationalization,” which requires undying devotion with solidarity to sustain the growth of international cooperation. In each of the three selected academic institutions, the president, vice president, as well as colleges and departments spare no effort in their pursuit of internationalization, ergo encourage and attract an increasing number of teachers to this endeavor, which naturally yields more beneficial results.
Characteristic III: Finding the “pivotal figure” so as to achieve more with less
The first step is always the hardest. Promoting international cooperation is no easy task. In our interviews, all the three academic institutions emphasized that finding the “pivotal figure” is the key to effective international cooperation. Obstacles and frustrations may be rife at the beginning, and we may fail to find a proper approach to seeking partners. Nevertheless, we will find the “pivotal figures” in our target institutions who can open up favorable opportunities for bilateral cooperation, providing that we persevere with this attempt.
For colleges/universities in Taiwan, internationalization is a vital step towards global competitiveness and visibility. For students, an internationalized, fully fledged educational environment facilitates their preparation to play roles on the international stage in addition to their learning in the classroom.
From these interviews we also learned about the courage and opinions of the young generation. For example, Jia-Zhan Wang, a student from Oriental Institute of Technology who worked as an intern at a factory in Suzhou, China for eight weeks, channeled the physical hardships to create motivation. He was utterly fearless in face of the utilitarian and wolf-like aggressiveness of his Chinese counterparts, and claimed that “Taiwan’s greatest strength lies in the quality of its products…I plan to work in Taiwan and manifest the Taiwanese value!”
The young generation in Taiwan is ready to set out on an epic journey with remarkable competitiveness.