Huang Po-tsang (黃博滄), vice dean of the Office of International and Cross-Strait Education at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU) in the northern metropolis of Taoyuan, argues internationalization of higher education is a long-term trend, one that Taiwan’s institutions must quickly adapt to given the declining cohorts of domestic students entering the system each year. This entails devising new globally minded curriculums while attracting staffers and partners equipped to operate in the new environment.
Government grants have a crucial role to play in the internationalization process, Huang said, adding the ESP in particular has helped drive recruitment on postgraduate courses. “The program is a real attraction for students from Southeast Asia and is quickly becoming a calling card for local universities recruiting in the region.”
According to Huang, demand for highly skilled talent in Southeast Asia is at an all-time high as the region’s economies grow quickly due to industrialization and inflows of foreign investment. To tap into this burgeoning market, CYCU set up its Office of the New Southbound Project in 2017 to initiate various cooperation, exchange and student recruitment initiatives.
CYCU has since forged sisterhood ties with approximately 100 schools in Southeast Asia to promote student and teacher exchanges. There are 20 ESP recipients enrolled in the university’s doctoral programs including 13 from Indonesia, four from the Philippines and three from Vietnam.
Huang is impressed by ESP students’ engagement in the classroom, which is backed by their strong learning outcomes. “These individuals have professional experience and are well suited to carrying out research,” he said. “They’re also excellent members of the community keen to get involved in extracurricular activities.”
Challoner Matero from the Philippines, an ESP student currently pursuing a Ph.D. in accounting at CYCU, is a prime example. His outstanding performance at the university enabled him to gain membership of Beta Gamma Sigma, an international business honor society based in the U.S. The group recognizes high-performing students from around the world in business schools accredited by Florida-headquartered Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
For the past 20 years Matero served as a faculty member in the Department of Accountancy at University of San Carlos in Cebu. He came to study in CYCU’s College of Business in 2018 because the institution is accredited by AACSB, indicating its excellence in all areas of education.
International business requires a contextual understanding of the world’s various cultures, Matero said, adding that studying in Taiwan had given him a deeper knowledge of local society and people while helping him develop the competencies needed for career success.
Matero therefore considers CYCU’s requirement for foreign students to take Mandarin language classes and examinations before graduation a good practice. “As Mandarin is increasingly used in the business world, especially in Asia, the ability to speak it definitely provides an edge on my CV,” he said.
The Filipino is encouraged to learn about the importance Taiwan places on Southeast Asia through promotion of the NSP, and he is firm in the belief that there is more room for collaboration in the region. “With my expertise, Mandarin skills and cultural sensitivity, I look forward to promoting Taiwan businesses in the Philippines and hope for future expansion of bilateral trade and investment,” he added.
Determination from academics like Matero, Nguyen and Fitriana to stimulate further collaboration between Taiwan and Southeast Asia after completing their studies bodes well for the future, and is testament to the effectiveness of the ESP, according to CYCU’s Huang. “Establishing this scholarship program has brought clear benefits to industry, students and universities—everyone’s a winner.”
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