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Mainland Affairs Council

Taiwanese Students

Taiwanese young students set out for the Mainland must be well prepared and conduct risk assessment

Introduction

The two sides have long conducted exchanges in the academic, education, religion, arts and cultural fields, these exchanges have not only enriched the societal development on both sides, but also facilitated better mutual understanding. Over the past thirty years, Taiwan’s democracy has developed rapidly and vibrantly; the Taiwanese people are firm-standing in their pursuit for free democracy and diversified creativity and innovation. While on the Mainland side, their economy and living standards have also improved and upgraded with time. However, even with such an increase in contact between people across the Strait, challenges also arise for Taiwanese young students when facing differences in terms of political systems, society and culture throughout the duration of their studies, therefore in the planning process, it is advised to comprehensively assess all risks. 

Adaptation and adjustment problems lie in the differences of the academic educational environment between the two sides

Taiwan’s academic environment is free and full of resources, teachers at all schools in their respective fields enjoy full autonomy; a widely different scene is set in the Mainland where the academic environment is first and foremostly under the rule of man and adheres to political party leaders. In Taiwan, free discussions flow throughout classrooms where all attendees enjoy the rights to freedom of speech and expression; whereas in the Mainland, the lectures given by teachers and questions raised by students are still heavily restricted, take for example the unspoken rule of the “Seven Unmentionables” (Note 1). On October 16, 2017, the Mainland announced its Regulations Governing Scholarships for Taiwanese Students, in which the first requirement would be for applicants to “Agree to one China principle, support unification of the motherland”; if students granted scholarships were found to behave or speak out in contradiction to “one China principle”, schools would cancel their qualifications and report to its superior agencies. The Mainland government’s mind control measures are obviously in full execution. Aside from the difference of freedom in the academic field, the society and living environment in Mainland China is also full of restrictions. For example, the Mainland denies its people access to internet resources (i.e. Facebook and Google) and clamps down on freedom of thoughts, actions of which run counter the concept of academic freedom imperative to higher education. Taiwanese youths have grown up in a free and democratic environment and are used to protecting human rights and freedom of speech, values embedded in their speech, thoughts, learning and living habits will all be restrained in the Mainland’s ideological control if one decides to study in the Mainland.

Talent competition between the two sides does not lie in compensation alone, but in long-term career planning

Over the recent years, some Taiwanese students, teachers and arts and cultural professionals have chosen to visit the Mainland in the hopes that there would be more opportunities. However, with even the shared language and culture and generous conditions granted by the Mainland, there are still many challenges for Taiwanese people headed to the Mainland side. The academic atmosphere and working environment in Mainland China are not as free and liberal as they are in Taiwan. For example, the number of Mainland high school graduates is going to exceed 8.2 million in 2018, resulting in employment becoming extremely competitive (Note 2). Therefore, in order to better protect one’s rights and interests, it is necessary to remind all Taiwanese students and people to thoroughly understand related regulations and information and conduct comprehensive risk assessments before heading over to the Mainland.

Some people believe Taiwanese teachers have a better chance of employment in Mainland high schools, but the fact is, Taiwanese teachers looking for work in the Mainland must first confront the bias of the Chinese people due to the result of information imbalance, they must also fully understand Mainland’s high school system and unspoken rules, tasks of which are already of high implicit cost. Adjusting to Mainland China’s administrative procedures, regulations and academic environments upon arrival will be wearisome enough, which is a wholly different situation from the impression Taiwanese people may have of enjoying high compensation.

Conclusion

According to the World Economic Forum’s “The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018” announced as of September 2017, Taiwan ranked 17th in the Higher Education and Training index, whereas Mainland China ranked 47th. Taiwan’s overall higher education environment still enjoys a competitive edge over the Mainland. Furthermore, Taiwanese are more able to further develop their interests through the variety of clubs in our universities. It is hoped that Taiwanese students can develop their potentials in a free and open environment.

The MOE has promoted many measures such as the “Higher Education Sprout Project” and “Yushan Project” to keep talents at home and attract talent from abroad, it is hoped that through such efforts, brilliant young talents will be brought into Taiwan and further push domestic universities into becoming more internationalized. As for student internships, the MOE has also established a student internship matching platform and promoted programs such as the “Pilot Overseas Internship Program” to assist Taiwanese students to intern in both domestic and overseas worksites. The government hopes for Taiwanese students to learn and study in a free and open environment and together work towards a better Taiwan.

 

Note 1: The “Seven Unmentionables” refers to seven subjects not to be mentioned, namely “universal norms”, “freedom of the press”, “civil society”, “civil liberties”, “CCP’s historical errors”, “privileged capitalist class”, and “independence of the judiciary”.

Note 2: Spokesperson Lu Aihong of the Mainland’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) stated in a press conference held on January 26, 2018 that the number of high school graduates in the Mainland have reached record high at 8.2 million. The creation of suffice employment for university graduates entering the market is a major challenge ahead.