TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Sun Yat-sen University's principal, Yang Hung-duen said recently that the more foreign students who are registered for classes at Taiwanese universities, the more money the government and universities lose.
According to reports, a student studying at a public university in Taiwan costs the government at least NT$300,000 (S$13,100) and NT$150,000 at a private university.
In comparison, the yearly tuition fee required from foreign students is only NT$100,000, reports said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker Lai Zhen-chang said that many foreign students take advantage of Taiwanese scholarships to study in Taiwan.
Lai said that, for example, many Mainland Chinese students complete their university studies in Taiwan only to return to China for work.
"The students help China suppress Taiwan and the issue needs to be investigated by the Ministry of Education," said Lai.
There are currently 90,000 foreign students studying in Taiwan's universities, with Mainland Chinese, Hong Kong and Malaysian students being the most numerous, according to statistics.
The number of short-term exchange students from China increased from approximately 5,000 pupils in 2010 to 27,000 pupils in 2015.
According to Yang, the cost for Taiwanese institutions to implement exchange programs with Mainland Chinese universities leads to money loss since there are more Chinese students than Taiwanese students that participate in the exchange.
Mainland Chinese exchange students pay tuition to their Chinese institutions so costs are higher for Taiwanese universities, said Yang.
Yang used US, Canadian and Australian international student policies to compare the tuition fees that Taiwanese universities charge.
Unlike Taiwan, which highly subsidizes foreign students with scholarships and bursaries, the three countries make it two or three times more expensive for international students to attend their universities compared with domestic students and only the most outstanding students receive monetary assistance.
For taxpayers, the increased recruitment of foreign students puts a strain on government funding and depletes resources for domestic students, Yang said.
Deputy Education Minister Chen Der-hua said that the affect of foreign students on Taiwanese students still needs to be ascertained.
According to the Ministry of Education (MOE), universities can adjust tuition fees for foreign students at their own discretion, though changes must be reported to the ministry.
The details for short-term exchange programs between Taiwanese universities and international universities can be determined by the two schools involved themselves, said the MOE.