Malaysian student reveals reason behind exchange students number drop in Taiwan

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Taiwan’s higher education system has actively promoted the New Southbound Policy (新南向政策) introduced in 2016, to attract students from Southeast Asian countries to attend school in Taiwan.

However, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Education (MOE, 教育部) in August 2021, 17,534 Vietnamese students were recorded studying in Taiwan, while Malaysia regressed to second place with only 13,694 and Indonesia placed third with 13,804.

In fact, Malaysian students in Taiwan originally increased year by year since 2017, once reaching 17,079 at its peak.

However, this trend began to drop in 2018, and although it still holds the spot among the top three countries of origin for international students, the number is clearly on the decline.

To this, Malaysian student Caleb Teo remarked that the main reason for the decrease in the number of Malaysian students coming to Taiwan for their studies can be largely credited to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously a student of the STEM program at a national university in Taiwan, Teo explained that another reason could be due to many Malaysian state-owned enterprises not recognizing Taiwan’s academic qualifications, which may lead to many opting to choose schools that did not need further authentication processes.

In addition to this, Teo pointed out that a lot of Malaysian students had the misconception that classes in Taiwan are all taught in Chinese, leading them to believe that the English education may not be as good as that of Singapore, the U.S., or European countries.

However, based on his own observations, Teo said there are still quite a few Malaysian students who are willing to come to Taiwan to study in STEM or art-related fields.

Having studied in Taiwan for four years and has since graduated, Teo had started his own business and worked as an engineer after returning to Malaysia. He operated the company for more than two years and has since made vast investments.

He remarked that he had always had a good impression of Taiwan and plans to come to Taiwan for further development when his career stabilizes.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese government has also noticed the decline in Malaysian international students, and the MOE has since actively promoted Taiwanese education in recent years, providing scholarships and strengthening care for these students by asking colleges and universities to handle relevant counseling activities.

Every year, the University Entrance Committee For Overseas Chinese Students (海外聯招會) invites representatives from various colleges and universities to tour various parts of Malaysia to hold exhibitions on studying in Taiwan.

Nowadays, combined with the effects brought about by the pandemic, many are shying away from studying abroad as the quarantine process and numerous PCR tests are also quite challenging.
To this, several other Malaysian students interviewed by 4-Way Voice concurred, pointing out that the younger generation is now quite timid in coming to study in Taiwan as the COVID-19 variants begin popping up all around the world.