Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) Taiwan is mulling recognizing diplomas from more Chinese universities, President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday, as some schools expected that doing so could result in more Chinese students studying here.
Speaking at the opening of the 2013 National Conference of University and College President at Fo Guang University, Ma said his administration is planning to expand the number of Chinese universities accredited in Taiwan from the current 41 to 112.
Under the plan, the 112 Chinese universities covered by China's 1998 world-class universities development program announced by then-President Jiang Zemin will be accredited.
Ma said his administration was also considering allowing Chinese students to enroll at local two-year colleges to increase the number of overseas students in local colleges.
Ma's idea was welcomed by the conference-goers although some of them worried that the move could backfire by encouraging more Taiwanese students to study in Chinese universities instead of luring more Chinese students to come here.
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling said he hoped to give a report on the issue to the Legislative Yuan and expand the number of accredited Chinese universities this year.
He dismissed the concerns that it could result in an exodus of local students to China, because of the advantage local universities enjoy over their Chinese counterparts.
Lee Si-chen, the president of National Taiwan University in Taipei, shared his view, saying it would help local universities to attract Chinese students more than the other way around.
Taiwan suffers from having too many universities and not enough students due to its low birth rate. Universities here are eager to attract students from China and elsewhere.
Hwung Hwung-hweng, president of National Cheng Kung University in Tainan City, said the increase in the number of accredited Chinese universities could expand the number of Chinese students local universities may choose from without compromising the standards of the kind of Chinese freshmen they admit, as long as the universities keep their requirements while accepting them.
Wu Ching-ji, a former education minister and president of the Taiwan Education University System in Taipei, said the expansion will help balance the educational exchanges between Taiwan and China as China already recognizes diplomas issued by all Taiwanese universities, while Taiwan recognizes degrees from only 41 Chinese universities.
The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the nation's top policy charter on China, said later that day that the government has already opened to 41 colleges and universities in China, including the 39 schools under China's "Project 985," -- a name given by then Chinese leader Jiang Zemin at Peking University's 100th anniversary in May 1998.
Project 211 is the Chinese government's new endeavor initiated in 1995 aimed at strengthening about 100 institutions of higher education and key disciplinary areas as a national priority for the 21st century.
The MAC is planning to expand the accreditation to more Chinese universities listed under its "Project 211," whose number currently stands at 112.
Both projects refer to schools that China prioritizes to raise the research standards of high-level universities and cultivate strategies for socio-economic developments, but the lists of the two overlap sometimes.
Asked if there is timetable for allowing more Chinese college students to come to Taiwan, the MAC refused to give an answer.
(By Hsu Chih-wei, Worthy Shen, Chen Hung-chin, Lilian Wu and Maubo