Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1st, 2002. According to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GAT), the education market of Taiwan should be opened up to the other members; therefore, internationalization of this market has been a priority since that time. For the purpose of nurturing international competitiveness, internationalization of education at all levels in Taiwan is unstoppable.

The Executive Yuan introduced a scheme to “Expand the Enrollment of International Students to Taiwan” into “The Major National Development Plan” in 2004. The aim of which is to have the number of international students to be 12,830 by the year 2011. In 2008, there were 6,258 international students in Taiwan. But when including the exchange students and those learning Chinese, the number totaled 19,496 in 2008, 30,067 in 2009, and 33,948 in2010.  To expand the enrollment of international students and promote the export of Taiwan’s higher education, the Ministry of Education listed “The Sophistication of the Operating Mechanism of Schools in Processing the International Students Host Family Program” as a major task of the Higher Education Export Plan. In accordance with the internationalization trend, schools should not only enhance foreign language abilities of students but also enlarge their world view.  Hence, there has been no hesitation to internationalize school education at all levels.

The Ministry of Education has actively expedited various projects to internationalize schools at all levels in recent years.  For instance, it has put forward the project “Widening the World View of Students in Vocational and Senior High Schools” in 2009 to improve the international competitiveness of vocational and senior high school students and better their cross-cultural communication abilities so as to be a competent world citizen in the twenty-first century. This project is to encourage vocational and senior high schools to promote “international student  exchange programs in Taiwan” (inbound) and “domestic high school students overseas exchange programs” (outbound).  With the support of the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations Taiwan Hostfamily Program was set up, and Kaohsiung Chung Shan Industrial and Commercial School took up the responsibility of setting up a perfect host family system.  There were 765 applicants for the positions of host families in 2009, 362 of them participated in the training program, with 87 families being able to host international students.  This system has greatly helped with “nternational student  exchange programs in Taiwan.” 

To broaden the participation of this Host Family Plan, the Ministry of Education commissioned Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology(STUST) to undertake the task of establishing Taiwah Hostfamily Program in order to integrate the efforts of all universities and non-governmental institutions in 2010.  After working for one year, there are over 700 people being trained and certified as Host Families in Taiwan, over 300 schools have joined training seminars, and 168 families have been able to host international students.  In addition to integrating the host family system established in 2009 during the implementation, STUST also combined domestic schools at all levels with community resources to build a sustainable national host family system for international students. The Taiwan Host Family Office was set up to make progress in the recruitment and training of host families.  Furthermore, STUST invited international students from different schools at all levels to join this plan to establish a complete training and evaluation mechanism. This was done so that the resources of schools and communities could be utilized much more efficiently in order to enlarge the actual home stay capacity and quality as well as reach the final goal of internationalizing both the communities and schools.

The experiences of these international students in Taiwan will decide the future opportunities for cooperation and are important to national diplomacy. The infrastructure of this plan was completed in 2010.  Based on this infrastructure, the plan will be extended to all levels of schools and non-profit institutions in order for even greater impact.  It will also be carried out by making connections to international host family organizations in order to obtain a worldwide reputation which promotes “Study Abroad and Learn Chinese in Taiwan”.

2010 Press Conference at Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology