Taiwan president presses for more English in college

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The Independent Online

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou called Sunday for more university classes to be taught in English if the island is to attract talented foreign students.

Ma, himself fluent in English, said he believes that if educational institutions are to lure foreign students, they must begin delivering courses entirely in English.

"Why so? Because I found not only schools in Singapore, Hong Kong or Europe, but schools in non-English speaking countries have begun English courses to attract foreign students," he said.

Just over half of the 70 colleges and universities on the island ran over 9,000 English-medium courses last year, with foreigners comprising just 1.3 percent of the student body, Ma said.

"Hopefully, that number can be doubled," Ma said in his latest video presentation on the website of the presidential office.

His appeal comes as Hong Kong Polytechnic University offered a scholarship package worth around 62,000 US dollars in financial support during a presentation at one of Taiwan's most prestigious boys' high schools last week.

"In the face of ever-greater competition, Taiwan's higher education sector must go international as well," said Ma, who obtained a doctoral degree from Harvard University after graduating from National Taiwan University.

"We must take measures not only to keep talented Taiwanese students here but to draw talented students from abroad... because it's clear that talented individuals are a key factor in the future competitiveness of a country."

Ma said that next year the foreign ministry will offer an additional 100 million Taiwan dollars (3.07 million US) in scholarships for foreign students. No figure was immediately available for the current allocation.