In a speech at the New Southbound National Chinese-language Schools Conference, which started on 20 August, premier William Lai recommitted his government’s pledge to retain more foreign graduates outlined in the New Economic Immigration Bill.
“If you compare the salary of a new graduate from [other countries], you could understand why working in Taiwan remains attractive”
Unveiled in May, the immigration bill will relax requirements for post-study work and residency for students from countries specified in Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy. Currently, graduates can remain in Taiwan for up to two years to look for work and continue for the duration of their visa.
The bill, which is under consultation, also sets out plans to attract more international students into its high school or vocational school systems, with an aim to cover shortages in the engineering, IT and manufacturing.
“Taiwan urgently needs to respond to some changes in the demographic structure as well as to the difficulties caused by the increasingly intense international competition for talent,” said Ming-hsun Chun, senior project manager at the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan.
“As a means to boost industrial upgrading, maintain a reasonable population structure, and raise national competitiveness, this is a vital objective that brooks no delay.”
“Taiwan urgently needs to respond to some changes in the demographic structure”
According to Taiwan’s cabinet, labour shortages hit as high as 120,000 in August 2017, and the country’s birth rate is the third lowest in the world, leading to an expected population decline in the coming years, to less than 20 million by 2035.
The country’s international education industry has welcomed the plans as a positive step towards attracting more students and combatting increased competition from other destinations.
Asia University Taiwan’s dean of International College Yinghuei Chen told The PIE News the bill would have a positive impact on reaching those targets.
“If Taiwan keeps opening its door to foreign graduates, it will certainly attract more international students to come to Taiwan and thereby increase the number of our international students,” he said.
“If Taiwan keeps opening its door to foreign graduates, it will certainly attract more international students”
“Over the years, the trend continues to grow [and] the reasons are very simple. If you compare the salary of a new graduate from a university working in Taipei, in Manila, in Bangkok, and in Jakarta, you could understand why working in Taiwan remains attractive.”
In July, acting minister of education Yao Leeh-ter revealed Taiwan had exceeded its target of 41,000 tertiary level students in 2017/18, immediately raising the target to 58,000 for the next academic year.
According to reports, in his speech Lai also extended the inducements outlined in the immigration bill, which are currently for students from the ASEAN countries, India, Australia and New Zealand, to those from China as well.
Taiwan has been active within the student work rights space recently, after the Ministry of Labor eased its work permit requirements for international students in March, creating an online form for students to complete.
At the time, a spokesperson from the ministry told The PIE the system, which no longer requires students to provide a consent form from their school, simplified the process and reduced the doubling up of documentation.