Plans due for HK, Macau students

The education minister said policies for international students apply to China and its territories, and such students would be vetted well

High schools planning to admit students from Hong Kong and Macau for the fall semester must submit their plans before the end of this month, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said on Thursday, adding that such students would be vetted by immigration and national security agencies.

Pan made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee after the ministry last month revised the Regulations for Hong Kong and Macau Residents Studying in Taiwan (香港澳門居民來台就學辦法), which allow high schools and vocational high schools to admit students from the Chinese territories.

According to the revisions, students from Hong Kong and Macau can study at local high schools, vocational high schools and five-year junior colleges when the fall semester starts in September.

Photo: Lin Hsiao-yun, Taipei Times

As most such students would be yet to turn 18, the regulations allow high-school principals, directors of school boards or school board members to be their guardians in Taiwan.

Each can serve as a guardian for five students from Macau or Hong Kong, the rules say.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) said that while Taiwan welcomes students from Hong Kong and Macau, there have been significant changes in relations with the Chinese territories in the past two years.

“Government authorities there are more aligned with Beijing’s agenda than before, and Hong Kong now has more residents who were born in China,” Chang Liao said. “The ministry needs to carefully consider the security ramifications of this new policy.”

The ministry permits entry of students from Hong Kong and Macau to study at local high schools and vocational high schools in accordance with the National Development Council’s 2020 policy, which aims to attract talent from all over the world, Pan said.

“For years, Taiwan has accepted students from Hong Kong and Macau to study at universities. The only difference now is that they are allowed to study at high schools and vocational high schools,” he said. “They are admitted on the basis of an additional quota assigned to each school and will not affect the educational rights of local students.”

“Our policy for international students applies to students from China or Chinese territories,” he said. “There will be a complete vetting mechanism in place for them.”

Separately, the Mainland Affairs Council issued a statement on Thursday to clarify “rumors” that high-school students from Hong Kong and Macau studying in Taiwan would be eligible to apply for a national identification card and thereby be entitled to vote.

Residents of Hong Kong and Macau here on student visas are not eligible to apply for a national ID, the council said.

Mechanisms to minimize national security risks associated with students from Hong Kong and Macau studying in Taiwan have been in place since Taiwan opened tertiary education to students from those areas decades ago, it said.

Welcoming more students from Hong Kong and Macau would have a lasting impact on such people by raising their awareness of liberal democracy and developing friendly connections with Taiwan, it said.

It would also offer young people in Hong Kong and Macau a choice of destination at a time when willingness to study abroad among many has increased due to severely restricted academic freedom at home because of interference by the Chinese government, it said.

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