“Many students may think that the best thing to study in Taiwan is the liberal and friendly social atmosphere, but I think it should be more than this.” Frank Ying (印永翔), the former director of office of international affairs, National Taiwan Normal University, has profound opinion on Taiwan’s position in the international cooperation of higher education, “We are the bridge of the east and the west, and we provide everything you need no matter you come from Southeast Asia, Europe or America”
Frank Ying’s confidence was reasonable. In 2010, he was the instructor for a Czech student in National Sun Yet-Sen University. Although this shy Czech boy won the gold medal of national Olympia math competition, he worried about his personality might not fit in the European or American education style, which asked students to be highly active and performative. Therefore he chose to study in Taiwan not only because Taiwan ranked the top countries of World Economic Forum, but for Taiwan combined the advantages of both the east and the west.
As a result, Taiwanese education environment helped him a lot. With the students and teachers’ companion and patience, he learned how to express himself clearly and confidently. “Finally I advised him to apply for New York University’s economics program, and he earned the five-year scholarship as well. The confidence he earned in Taiwan made his dream come true!” Frank Ying saw the importance of being the bridge between the east and west in this Czech boy.
Quality certification system: Maintaining the learning quality
We then headed to Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan to interview the chief executive officer Yung-chi Hou (侯永琪). The busy CEO just finished another meeting before the interview. She thought one of the goals for Taiwanese government to support higher education quality certification system was to provide both local and foreign students with standards and guarantees when they were choosing university.
The former director of office of international affairs, Fu Jen Catholic University, had studied globalization and higher education for long. She emphasized that higher education quality certification system helped increase Taiwanese higher education’s quality and competence. She pointed out that the council did pay a lot of efforts to execute the system since it was founded. “Why is the quality certification system important? People know that the so called elite colleges such as National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, and National Chiao Tung University are reputed, but what about other middle-ranked colleges? This is why we need the system.”
Yung-chi Hou explained that the quality certification system evaluated the colleges’ education features and programs by different index, which provided international students with a clearer standards when choosing college. “This is how Taiwan shows its confidence in higher education: every college under the system meets the standards of quality education, and guarantees the students certain study achievements.”
Yung-chi Hou knew well that international students might not have to attend elite colleges. Instead, understanding the education features of different colleges and how it matched their own study plan was more crucial to the students. She was very sure the students would find what they need from Taiwan’s mature quality certification system.
Internationalization: Preparation for long-term plan
When it came to Taiwan’s position in the world, Yung-chi Hou believed the concept of “internationalization” was not far from Taiwan’s higher education. She recalled the memory of studying in Fu Jen Catholic University, and she remembered most of teachers were westerners, “courses in English were normal because Fathers and Sisters were all from foreign countries!” She thought this is not only the “tradition” built by her generation, but also the reason why Fu Jen was always friendly to international students.
Talking about college internationalization, Yung-chi Hou was well-prepared during her service for office of international affairs in Fu Jen. From working on the white paper to planning organization, teaching methods and student supporting system, she marked out a five-to-ten-year plan for Fu Jen to gradually internationalize. “Internationalization takes time. There is no way to achieve it in a short period, and this is why we need to plan it carefully,” she was confident to the future of her mother school and the whole Taiwanese education environment.
Be a bridge: Taiwan is the bridge to connect different cultures and economics
“Except for quality certification, Taiwanese government provided many kinds of scholarship to encourage foreign students to study in Taiwan.” Frank Ying had witted the growth of numbers of international students in Taiwan in the past 16 years. In his point of view, efforts the government and colleges paid to scholarship was very supportive to international students.
He indicated that there were more than 8000 international students in National Taiwan Normal University, and the ranking of student number by nationality was Japanese, Korean and American, which remained the same for many years. According to the distribution of foreign students’ nationality, Taiwan was said to be the bridge between the conservative and open-minded societies.
In general, America, Japan, and Korea were as developed as Taiwan, but there were still many students choosing to study in Taiwan every year. Frank Ying thought these students might aim to go to Southeast Asia or China, and they took Taiwan as a bridge. From politic and social angle, it was easier for them to adjust to the democratic Taiwanese society and its liberalized market. At the same time, they could take Taiwan as a platform to observe the country they were heading to, in order to revise their own cultural vision as needed.
Frank Ying was sure that being the bridge between the conservative and open-minded societies, Taiwan could satisfy students’ different needs. More importantly, 97% of Taiwanese private business were small and medium enterprises with excellent flexibility towards the fast-changing market trends, and they were also able to integrate different resources quickly. “This is great pre-training for Japanese, Korean and American students to work in China or Southeast Asia,” Yin said. He attached importance to Taiwanese industry’s advantages made by small and medium enterprises. “We have 1.28 million small and medium enterprises, and this is nowhere to be found in the world except for Taiwan!” Experiences with Taiwan’s industry growth and economic development, and the integration ability would do good to students from Southeast Asia especially.
At the end of the interview, we asked Yin to give those hadn’t decided to study in Taiwan a few words. He paused for a second, and said firmly in English, “This is the best place for you to meet the combination of the east and the west.”