Bernardo M. Villegas
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Choosing to Study in Taiwan

          In the last century, tens of thousands of the best university graduates from East Asia trooped to the United States to take up masteral or doctoral  studies in U.S. universities.  The brightest of them got admitted into the world’s best universities like Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Stanford, M.I.T., Columbia, University of California (Berkeley), etc. Others went to the second-tier universities which were still much better than the universities in their respective home countries.  Especially in the science and engineering disciplines, graduate programs in the U.S. attracted especially Chinese,  Indians, Koreans, Taiwanese, and Filipinos, among others.  While I was studying at Harvard during the 1960s, I met many of these Asian students who were usually topping their respective classes.  Not only were they intellectually superior to many of their non-Asian classmates.  They were also more highly driven and motivated.  They would spend 12 to 15 hours a day in their studies, hardly having any time for sleep or leisure.  There was no doubt that they made the right decision to study in American universities which were then the unquestioned leaders in the  quality of graduate education.

         A good number of these Asians decided to stay in the U.S., many of them being hired to become top professors in the U.S. universities as well as scientists and engineers in many of the high-tech American enterprises.  Fortunately for their respective countries, however, an important number also decided to return home and participate in the explosive economic growth that marked East Asian and South Asian economies in the last quarter of the last century and the beginning of the new millennium, especially in China, India, Taiwan, and South Korea.  Those with an academic bent decided to teach in the top local universities some of which have reached standards that can match their U.S. counterparts.  In what we now call the Tiger Economies, these U.S.-trained professionals were fortunate that the respective Governments of their home countries adopted economic policies that made for an attractive investment climate that made it worthwhile for the returnees to resist the temptation of staying in the U.S.  Unfortunately for the Filipinos who studied abroad, however, decades of wrong economic policies as well as poor governance limited the contribution they could make to agro-industrial and scientific progress.  Only lately has it been worthwhile for top Filipino scientists and engineers trained in the U.S. to return to the Philippines to make a mark on their respective professions.

         In the twenty first century, university graduates from the Philippines can have a wider choice of universities abroad in which to pursue their masteral or doctoral degrees.  They no longer have to just focus on the U.S.  One such alternative is Taiwan which has a good number of high-quality tertiary educational institutions that should be considered by Filipinos who are looking for opportunities to deepen their specialization in their respective professions, especially in engineering and the sciences. Another important consideration in choosing Taiwan for further studies is that many more applicable lessons can be learned from its experiences in the recent past because their economy is only a generation or so ahead of the Philippines integral human development.  Furthermore, its natural and human resources are not too different from those we have. Filipino students will feel very much at home in Taiwan because of the common cultural and demographic ties we have with the inhabitants of our neighbor to the north. 

    Thanks to the New Southbound Policy being implemented by the current Taiwanese Government, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in the Philippines recently announced the opening of various scholarship programs for qualified Filipinos students.  These scholarships are intended for Filipinos who are planning to pursue further studies in Taiwan (Master’s and Doctoral degrees) or for those who would like to learn the Mandarin language, which is increasingly becoming an alternative to English as the professional or business lingua franca in the Asian region.

         Starting February 1, 2018, Taiwan through TECO in the Philippines, has opened the application for the following scholarship programs:

         1.  Ministry of Education (MOE) Scholarship which gives two years scholarship for Master’s and four years for Doctoral degrees.  MOE will shoulder 40,000 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) of the tuition and the remaining costs will be shouldered by the scholar.  An additional 20,000 NTD will be awarded as stipend to the scholar.  The application period will be from February 1 to April 30, 2018.  The website for the application form is

         2.  Huayu (Mandarin) Enrichment Scholarship which allows applicants to pursue either two- or three-month intensive Mandarin courses subject to TECO’s approval.  A monthly stipend of 25,000 NTD will be provided to cover all the expenses.  Application is from February 1 to March 31, 2018 using the same website as above.

         3.  International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) which covers full tuition fee, living expenses, economy class airfare tickets and textbook costs.  Scholars pursuing their Master’s degree will receive a monthly stipend of 15,000 NTD and those in Doctoral programs will receive 20,000 NTD.  Application is from February 1 to March 31, 2018 through website: http://www.icdf. 

         Those who intend to apply for these scholarships may choose only one scholarship program among the offerings and must first process their  admission to their preferred university in Taiwan.  They also have to submit the necessary documents to TECO for review and recommendation complying with the indicated deadlines of the various programs.  It should be noted that a student is ineligible to apply if he or she is currently enrolled in another scholarship program in Taiwan.  Scholarship guidelines and additional requirements prescribed by TECO can be found at the official website of TECO in the Philippines at

         For Filipino university graduates who have not studied Mandarin, it is good news that most of the leading Taiwanese universities offer graduate programs in English.  Although it is always a great advantage to learn Mandarin for its own sake, one can obtain a masteral or doctoral degree in some Taiwanese universities without a working knowledge of Mandarin.  It has been for some time now that Taiwan has partnered with Philippine institutions and universities to attract young and capable talents to study in Taiwanese universities.  Some officials of the leading Philippine university, the University of the Philippines have identified some of the top universities in Taiwan which should be given top priority by Filipino students seeking to study there.  They are Southern Taiwan University Alliance, Southern Taiwan University Network, National Sun Yat Sen University, Kaohsiung University, and Shu Te—all in the South of Taiwan. In the north are National Taiwan University Network which includes the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan Tech and National Taiwan Normal University (for the humanities and education).  The interested applicant can easily google these universities to get more detailed information about their respective programs. For comments, my email address is