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Bill to help immigrants enroll in universities
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A chart showing the percentage of nationals from different countries who have settled in Taiwan between 1987 and last year./Photo taken from the National Immigration Agency Web site

The Ministry of Education is drafting an amendment that would allow “new immigrants” to enroll in local universities without taking entrance exams, with the policy expected to take effect in the second half of next year at the earliest.

There are more than 650,000 new immigrants who hold Republic of China (ROC) identification cards, exceeding the number of Taiwan’s Aborigines and making them the fifth-largest population group in the nation, the ministry said on Saturday.

Before an immigrant becomes a naturalized ROC citizen — a process that usually takes four to eight years — they can enroll in Taiwanese universities like other foreign students by using their high-school academic record from their home country.

However, after they are naturalized, new immigrants who want to study at local universities have to take the college entrance exam like any other Taiwanese student, the ministry said, adding that the exams can be challenging for those who did not finish high school in Taiwan.

To offer naturalized citizens better opportunities to study in Taiwan, the ministry is drafting an amendment to Article 25 of the University Act to facilitate their enrollment in higher-education programs, it said.

Each university department would be given an additional 2 percent quota for admitting naturalized students, in addition to its original authorized quota of students, the draft amendment says.

Yang Hsiao-mei , who moved from Vietnam to Taiwan with her family when she was nine, said that Taiwan’s college entrance exams are difficult for immigrants.

Yang, previously director of the academic affairs office at New Taipei City’s Golden Dragon Primary School, is to become the nation’s first elementary-school principal from an immigrant background.

She praised the proposed amendment, saying it would motivate naturalized citizens to pursue higher education, which would be beneficial for their work prospects.

Aside from increasing the admission quota, the ministry should also have supplementary educational resources ready for naturalized citizens, National Parent Education Volunteer Association chairman Wu Fu-pin said.

The quota for immigrant students is additional and would not affect the rights of Taiwanese students, former Shih Chien University president Michael Chen said.

Chinese spouses, who are governed by cross-strait regulations, would still be required to take the exams to enroll in Taiwan’s universities, he added.

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