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Nation to join with colleges abroad for education program

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- During an inquiry session of the Legislative Yuan's Education and Culture Committee yesterday to review the proposed draft to amend the regulations regarding the establishment of virtual universities, minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said that part of the Taiwan Free Economic Pilot Zone includes a plan for “Education Innovation,” which encompasses four individual programs which will not be launched within any of the designated Pilot Zone areas, but virtually.

The four programs will be the establishment of online campuses of foreign universities in Taiwan, the introduction of online universities with local universities, collaboration with local universities and the introduction of advanced placement courses.

Preliminary plans will be available within six months, said Chiang, with at least one foreign university attached to cooperate with three to five local universities to establish online campuses.

During the inquiry, legislator Chiang Nai-Shin (蔣乃辛) expressed his concern over the potential impact foreign influences might have on the recruitment efforts of local universities. Chiang Wei-ling replied that the impact will have no negatives, if not a positive effect on local universities. The virtual foreign universities will only be exclusive to international students in Taiwan. Instead of facing a potential decrease in the enrollment of local universities, the plan will hopefully increase the enrollment of foreign students locally who wish to be accepted into foreign universities that have set up virtual campuses in Taiwan, using the foreign brand as a means of advertisement.

In addition to concerns over local recruitment, committee member Lai Shyh-Bao (賴士葆) also recommended the implementation of MD-Ph.D. classes in virtual universities for local doctors, as the enrolment rate in the MD-Ph.D. classes locally is close to zero.

Currently, online campuses of local universities have already taken the first steps. Not only can Taiwanese students sign up for online classes from their universities, the benefit is also extended to international students from Hong Kong and Macau, as the Chinese writing taught in online universities can be shared amongst the Chinese community.

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