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Taiwan opens up to students from disaster-affected areas

TAIPEI -- Foreign students from areas affected by conflict, natural disasters or outbreaks of infectious disease will be allowed to study in Taiwan on a case-by-case basis, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday.

The new humanitarian policy, which is based on a recent revision to the Regulations Regarding International Students Undertaking Studies in Taiwan, is aimed at fulfilling Taiwan's responsibility as a member of the international community, said Liu Su-miao, a section chief at the ministry's Department of International and Cross-Strait Education.

The new policy will most likely be applied in cases of students from Taiwan's neighboring countries, excluding mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, Liu said.

In the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, for example, American students studying in Japan moved temporarily to the Taipei American School in Taiwan, she said.

If expatriate schools in the affected countries or areas do not have any branches in Taiwan, their students will have to enroll in local schools, Liu said.

Also as part of the revision, foreign students with permanent residency in Taiwan who are enrolled in Taiwan public schools will pay the same tuition fees as local students instead of being charged higher fees.

There are 11,554 foreign students currently studying in colleges in Taiwan, while another 267 are in elementary or secondary schools, according to MOE statistics.

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