Taipei, The Ministry of Education (MOE) said Wednesday said that all intentional students enrolled in Taiwan universities will be allowed to return to continue their studies, but it later made reversal on one aspect of the policy, saying students from China are not included.
As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan had closed its borders to foreign nationals on Mar. 19, but has been gradually easing the restrictions to allow the return of some international students and others.
On June 17, the entry ban was lifted for final year students from 19 countries and territories classified as low-risk or low-to-moderate risk for COVID-19. The rules were further relaxed on July 22 to also allow the entry of new students from those places and final year students from all other countries, including China.
On Wednesday, the MOE sent a notice to all universities, saying that the entry ban on international students enrolled in Taiwan schools was being lifted, with immediate effect.
Speaking to the press later in the day, Deputy Minister of Education Lio Mon-chi (劉孟奇) reiterated the policy, saying that it included Chinese students.
However, Lio was called away by his advisers mid-way through the press briefing, and he later said Chinese students were not included in the policy due to “cross-strait-related considerations.”
In another exchange with the press later in the evening, he said the reversal was due to dissenting opinions among government authorities in charge of cross-strait issues.
Based on the opinions of those authorities, the MOE has decided to hold off on allowing the return of Chinese students, Lo said, adding that the discussions on the issue will continue.
When asked whether the “cross-strait-related considerations” were based on the COVID-19 situation in China or other factors, Lio said “the authorities in charge will explain.”
The MOE’s reversal on the issue was met with disappointment by the Taiwan International Student Movement, who said the decision was “discriminatory”.
Meanwhile, Wu Yung-chien (吳永乾), chairman of the Association of Private Universities and Colleges and president of Shih Hsin University, told CNA that it is “completely unnecessary” to exclude Chinese students at this stage, as all students need to go into quarantine for 14-days upon entry.
Wu also called on the MOE to make a decision soon on the entry of new international students, saying they will need time to prepare.
According to MOE data, some 10,000 international students enrolled in Taiwan universities, including 5,000 from China, have not yet returned to Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel