CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan suspends entry of international students
Taipei, Dec. 31 (CNA) The Ministry of Education (MOE) on Thursday issued a directive for Taiwan schools to stop accepting entry permit applications by international students, for at least one month, with immediate effect.
The suspension applies to all foreign students, including those from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as recipients of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Taiwan Scholarship, according to the MOE.
The decision was made after the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday announced more stringent border and quarantine restrictions in response to a new variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
Starting Jan. 1, only Taiwan citizens, residents and people in a few other categories will be allowed to enter the country, said Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.
According to MOE statistics, there are 49 international students who have already obtained entry permits but have not yet arrived in the country, and they will be allowed to enter after Jan. 1.
However, no new applications will be accepted by schools, with immediate effect, the ministry said, adding that the decision will be reviewed in a month's time after consultations with the CECC.
The education ministry did not give an estimate of how many foreign students will be affected.
As of Thursday, there were 19,471 international students pursuing degrees in Taiwan, 115 of whom had entered the country in December, according to the MOE.
Commenting on the MOE directive, Ben Chen (陳維斌), vice president for international and Mainland China affairs at Chinese Culture University in Taipei, told CNA the decision will affect mainly international students who had applied to start school in the 2021 spring semester in February and those who are currently out of the country with expired residency permits.
Chen said international students in Taiwan are advised not to leave the country at this time, as they may not be allowed to return, due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Chiao Chuan-chin (焦傳金), Dean of Student Affairs at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Hsinchu, said NTHU had accepted 27 international students who had not yet applied for entry permits to start school next February.
If the policy extends beyond a month, those students may have to postpone or cancel their plans to study in Taiwan, Chiao said.
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