Taipei, May 16 (CNA) The issue of elite senior high school graduates opting to study abroad rather than at local universities should be discussed from a broad perspective, Education Minister Chiang Wei-ning said Wednesday.
According to a newspaper report, an increasing number of outstanding senior high school students are giving up their chances of admission to top-notch local universities in favor of schools in Hong Kong, Europe, the United States, Japan, South Korea and the Middle East.
A rough estimate shows that more than 300 senior high school students have applied to study at famous foreign universities or colleges this year, the Chinese-language United Daily News (UDN) reported Wednesday.
Asked about his views on the issue, Chiang said on the sidelines of a legislative committee meeting that he personally would encourage young students to go abroad at different stages of study to broaden their horizons.
"It's good in this era of globalization to see young people go abroad to study on foreign campuses," Chiang said.
While more Taiwanese high school graduates are applying to study abroad, many foreign students are also coming to Taiwan to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies, Chiang said.
"We need to examine the issue from a broader perspective rather than focus on the number of outbound students," Chiang said.
During the legislative committee session, ruling Kuomintang Legislator Chen Pi-han brought up the issue again, inquiring about the exact number of Taiwan high school students applying to study abroad.
"A figure of 200 or 300 may be an overestimate," Chiang said, adding that he has asked relevant officials at the Ministry of Education for a more accurate estimate.
The UDN report quoted Tsai Che-ming, director of the Academic Affairs Department at Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, as saying that few male high school students are applying to foreign universities because of Taiwan's mandatory military service regulations.
"Most male students tend to go abroad for advanced study after they have earned a bachelor's degree and completed their compulsory military service," Tsai said.
According to the UDN report, Hong Kong is the most popular destination for graduates from prestigious high schools in northern Taiwan, such as Taipei First Girls High School and Chung Shan Girls High School, because major Hong Kong universities are offering full scholarships and job incentives to attract top Taiwanese students.
Japan's Waseda University has also offered scholarships to lure outstanding students from famous Taiwanese senior high schools, the reports said.
The number of students at noted high schools in southern Taiwan applying to study abroad is also increasing, the report said.
Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School said 11 of its students have acquired admissions to various famous foreign universities this autumn, the report said, adding that the number marks an over 100 percent year-on-year increase.
(By Ho Meng-quei and Sofia Wu)