Taiwan’s universities open doors to students fleeing Hong Kong campus turmoil

Kinling Lo

University students fleeing campus turmoil in Hong Kong can attend lectures at colleges in Taiwan to continue their studies, the island’s Ministry of Education said on Wednesday.

“Regardless of whether they are from Taiwan or not, university students in Hong Kong whose studies have been interrupted by the protests in Hong Kong are welcome to register with a number of our universities here if they want to continue their studies,” the ministry said.

The offer follows a week of confrontations at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong and Polytechnic University in an escalation of anti-government protests marked by tear gas, rubber bullets, and petrol bombs.

Overseas universities urged exchange students studying at the campuses to leave and universities in Hong Kong announced an early end to the school semester.

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Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said on Wednesday last week that it was expecting 284 of the island’s 1,021 students studying at Hong Kong universities to return home.

On Monday, Taipei-based National Taiwan University said it had received applications from 417 affected students, including 100 from Hong Kong and 240 from Taiwan. The rest were from Macau, mainland China and elsewhere.

Students would be allowed to sit in on courses without credits for the rest of the school term, which runs from early December until January 3.

They will be charged NT$600 (US$19.65) to register, which includes internet access but not dormitory fees.

Those staying off campus will pay a NT$400 registration fee, while guest students from Taiwan will have to find their own accommodation because of limited space at the university.

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The ministry said that at least nine other universities – including National Sun Yat-sen University and National Tsing Hua University – had opened short-term, and long-term higher education programmes for these students who wished to continue their studies in Taiwan.

Students wanting to qualify for degrees in Taiwan would have to apply to the ministry, it said.

In all, Taiwan had 129 universities in 2017.

Hong Kong has been rocked by more than five months of anti-government protests stemming from a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

The bill would have allowed suspects to be sent to places, including mainland China, with which the city does not have formal extradition agreements.

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