Taiwan youths flock to mainland for education, employment opportunities

By Yang Sheng and Fan Lingzhi Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/4 19:03:39

Students from the mainland and Taiwan play games at a youth festival in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, on August 10, 2017. Photo: VCG


Lucius Huang, an 18-year-old high -school graduate from Taiwan, had an unconditional offer from the top university on the island, but when he received an offer from Tsinghua University on the Chinese mainland on May 5, he jumped with excitement.

"I was too excited to speak. That was probably the most exciting moment of my life," Huang said.

National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei is the best varsity on the island - a dream of most students there. Beijing-based Tsinghua University (THU) is one of the best in the country. According to the QS top universities ranking in 2018, THU ranked 25th in the world while NTU was placed 76.

Tsinghua's entry score for Taiwan students is 73 this year, and Huang is just stepping on the line. The full marks for Taiwan's General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT), a university entrance exam in Taiwan, is 75.  "The entry score set by Tsinghua this year is the highest ever, and has been caused by the rapidly rising number of applicants from Taiwan, which means the competition among them is getting extremely tough," Huang said.

Go to the mainland

"Come to NTU, go to the US" used to be a proverb in Taiwan since the 1970s. Now it has changed to "Come to PKU (Peking University in Beijing, another top university of China), go to the mainland," said a student from Taiwan surnamed Li, 19, who was enrolled by PKU in 2017.

High-school graduates from Taiwan are not just targeting the top universities on the mainland, such as Tsinghua and Peking University, some relatively less prominent universities are also popular. Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province is an example.

According to the data provided by Sun Yat-sen University, there are almost 600 applications from Taiwan's high-school graduates this year - a four-fold rise over the last year. The university shortlisted 200 applicants for interview, China Central Television reported on May 20.

"When I was in primary school and junior high-school, there were not so many people coming to the mainland for higher education, but after I entered high school, there was a spurt in students around me with plans to go to universities on the mainland," said Ivan Lin, 19, another student admitted to Tsinghua University. Lin was selected for admission to NTU but he decided to join Tsinghua.

Huang echoes what Lin said: "Except Tsinghua and PKU, many classmates also applied for other universities on the mainland such as Wuhan University and Chongqing University."

Voting with feet

After the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) became the ruling party of the island in 2016, cross-Straits relations have been volatile since DPP refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. It also pushes for "desinicization."

However, the DPP's policy on the island is not working well.

The DPP cannot stop the youth of Taiwan to "vote with feet," said Zheng Boyu, 31, from Taiwan and based in Beijing - the manager of Vstartup Station of Taiwan, an institution helping Taiwanese youth apply to Chinese mainland universities, obtain internship opportunities in companies or start up their own business on the mainland.

The income of Taiwan's residents has been stagnant for about 16 years, while on the other hand, the mainland is developing at a remarkable pace, Zheng said.

According to latest data about income of Chinese university graduates, if Taiwan students come to study in mainland universities which rank above 106 and work on the mainland after graduating, their income will definitely be higher than Taiwan's average, and this is why applicants from Taiwan are increasing in recent years," said Yu Qiang, an associate professor on Taiwan studies at the University of International Relations.

Lower the cost of integration

"The mainland will create a better environment and more opportunities for Taiwan students to study, undertake internships, obtain employment or start up business here," said An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, at a press conference.

"It's a natural choice and an irresistible trend for Taiwan students to apply to mainland colleges," An said, noting that Taiwan students were going after better chances to realize their dreams, and their parents also want them to have better educational opportunities, Xinhua reported.

Lin, the student from Taiwan admitted to Tsinghua, said, "For my generation in Taiwan, we are very likely to work on the mainland, so if we can come here early, we can start to build the connections with people earlier, and adapt to the mainland's speed, environment, rules and situation as soon as possible."

"The mainland and Taiwan should both work toward lowering the cost of integration for the next generation. Education and employment are the best options, and with time, quantitative changes will lead to qualitative ones, bringing improvement to Cross-Straits relations," Zheng said.

Newspaper headline: Learning a lesson


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