Seeing the possibility of a loss of freedoms in their future, Hong Kong students are increasingly deciding to study in Taiwan, Radio Free Asia has learned.
Sophia Ma helps lead the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong. She said students from Hong Kong are showing more interest in universities and higher education institutions in Taiwan.
“…I think that has something to do with recent problems we have seen in Hong Kong," Ma said.
"I think we will likely see more Hong Kong students coming to study in Taiwan as a result," she added.
Applications will soon be accepted for students wishing to study for a bachelor's degree at a Taiwan university. Recently, there were more than 80 higher education institutions from Taiwan that attended an education fair at the Kowloon Bay International Trade and Exhibition Center.
Taiwan is already popular with students from Hong Kong: more than 1,600 students enrolled in Taiwanese universities last year.
This year, older people also are applying to study, possibly because they hope to live on the island after graduation. It is a road to permanent residency offered under Taiwan's immigration rules.
Lin Yu-chan is an assistant professor at Taiwan's Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages. He said he had seen several older people who want to attend Taiwanese universities this year.
"So, this year is very unusual: there are fathers and mothers with children who are applying to go to university in Taiwan. It's a new phenomenon."
High level of interest
Lin said his booth at the fair had run out of informational materials halfway through the day because so many people were interested.
A man called Tse took his son to the event. He said he wanted his son to leave the city because of the protests and the "political atmosphere" there. He said he liked the “learning environment” in Taiwan.
"Many of my friends have had similar ideas, and want to send their kids overseas to study," he said.
Young people at the exhibition told RFA that the political crisis in Hong Kong is making overseas study more interesting.
Some had plans to apply to schools in Taiwan. Others said they would prefer Britain, the United States or Canada.
Sophia Ma said that universities in Taiwan had easier admission requirements than Hong Kong universities. They also teach subjects that are in demand, including science and agriculture.
For some students, it may be a way to leave the uncertainty of Hong Kong’s political future behind.
2,600 arrests since June
Hong Kong police have made more than 2,600 arrests since protests started in early June. Protesters have been demanding the withdrawal of a proposed law that would permit Hong Kong to send some criminal suspects to mainland China for trial. Hong Kong’s legislature formally withdrew the proposed bill Tuesday. Protesters also are demanding democratic reforms and an investigation of police methods during the demonstrations.
However, hundreds have been arrested for violating a ban on mask-wearing in public. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced the ban last weekend under legislation giving her administration emergency powers.
The decision to use emergency powers permits the chief executive to make new laws considered to be in the public interest. These include government controls related to publications, maps, pictures and communications.
I’m Susan Shand.
Radio Free Asia reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.
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Words in This Story
application – n. a formal and usually written request for something
fair – n. an event at which many people gather to buy things or to get information about a product or activity
phenomenon – n. a situation or event that is new
booth – n. a small enclosure offering information or goods