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Studying in Taiwan

Students' Experiences of Taiwan

Why study in Taiwan?

One of the four Asian tiger economies, Taiwan is a world apart from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which still claims the island as part of its territory.

  • Taiwan remained largely immune from the recession that affected the other Asian tigers and has bounced back strongly from the more recent global economic crisis.
  • The number of international students in Taiwan has almost doubled to almost 5,000 over the past four years, studying a wide variety of subjects from Chinese language and history to tropical agriculture and forestry, genetic engineering, business, and semi-conductors. Most undergraduate students are from neighbouring Asian countries but also from the US and Eastern Europe.
  • English is the language of tuition in 121 programmes at 41 universities, but one of the big attractions for international students is to learn Mandarin Chinese (the official language) in a more democratic and less opaque environment than the PRC.
  • The Taiwan government and its universities are targeting the international student market with the United States uppermost in its sights. The first recruitment fair in the US took place in October 2012 with the hard sell that a degree can be obtained in Taiwan for the cost of a semester’s tuition at a US university.
  • A growing number of foreign students choose Mandarin and visual communication design as their majors, according to official statistics. Finance was the top major of choice among foreign students in 2010 and 2011. Others include business administration, management, science and engineering.

Entry and visa regulations

Once accepted by a university, applicants will normally be guided through the process by their chosen institution.

  • Non-EU nationals will need to apply for a Student Visa before travel. This lasts only for 180 days so students on a full degree programme will need a Resident Visa (£44) and Alien Resident Card.
  • EU nationals will also need to apply. In general, a letter of acceptance from the university, as well as documentation indicating sufficient financial resources to support themselves during their period of study in Taiwan (normally a bank statement showing at least NT$100,000 or around £2,000) are required.

The university system

There are more than 100 higher education institutions – public and private – in Taiwan.

  • Roughly 66.6% of the over 100,000 students taking the national university entrance exams are accepted to a higher educational institution. The country’s universities are open to students from the People’s Republic of China and PRC degrees are recognised in Taiwan.
  • Applications for entry and visa formalities are handled by the university to which you are applying. Each university has minimum entry requirements.
  • The closing date for normal applications is in February of the year of entry.

Tuition fees and funding your study

  • Tuition fees at the National Taiwan University range from £2,000 to £4,200 a year (2013–14) for undergraduates and from £2,000 to £5,200 a year for graduates, depending on the programme.
  • Some scholarships are available.

Student housing

  • On-campus undergraduate dormitories are divided based on gender, with, typically, four to six students sharing a room.
  • If dormitories are unavailable or you prefer a different living arrangement, off-campus apartments, including studios and flats, are available.

Costs of living

The cost of living in Taiwan is slightly higher than in many other Asian countries, but students from overseas can still enjoy a good standard of living.

Typical costs in Taiwan (GBP, March 2015) are:

  • Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £154 - £252 per month
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £2.14
  • Meal at McDonalds: £2.57
  • Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £1.07
  • Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £1.50
  • Cappuccino: £1.53
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.57
  • Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.40
  • Loaf of bread: £0.96
  • Cigarettes: £1.71
  • One-way ticket local transport: £0.43
  • Cinema ticket: £6.20

Working while studying

Working without a permit carries a fine of up to NT$150,000.

  • Officially international students who have completed two semesters and who have an excellent academic record, can only work in Taiwan if they can prove that events of a serious nature have affected their financial ability to support themselves, or they are required to assist at an academic research institution at their university, or for an off-campus internship related to their field of study. 

Health and safety

International students with an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) who have resided in Taiwan for six months must enrol in the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme at a local administrative office.

  • Up to six months students can either purchase their own insurance or sign up for a temporary health insurance programme offered by the international students’ office at their university. The insurance premium (NT$ 7,908 a year) has to be paid monthly once registration is completed. The cost is included in the tuition fee and provides cover for all but the first 30% of the total medical bill.
  • People applying for resident visas must have a health certificate. If the health certificate indicates that the visa applicant is HIV positive, the applicant will not receive a visa even though Taiwan visa law does not mention HIV. Similarly, Taiwan authorities are likely to require people who test positive for HIV to leave Taiwan at their own expense, even though Taiwan law does not require authorities to deport people who are HIV positive.
  • Some campuses have on-campus health centres, which provide medical assistance for minor ailments.
  • Taiwan is generally regarded as a safe place to live and study. Of course in Taipei normal precautions apply as in any large city.
  • Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in, illegal drugs are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. The death penalty applies for certain violent crimes and drug offences.
  • Taiwan is one of Asia's most progressive countries as far as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights are concerned. Adult, private, non-commercial and consensual same-sex sexual activity is legal.

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