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Taiwan graduates decry lack of job opportunities

By Zhang Yue | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-07 10:55

Taiwan graduates decry lack of job opportunities

Gong Haixiang has to begin a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend. Cui Nan / China Daily

Trying to land a job was tough for Li Chenchen, 25, who graduated from National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan this year.

Li and other six schoolmates were among the first batch of students from the Chinese mainland to complete their degree in Taiwan. According to local policy, they can not be employed in Taiwan after graduation.

"I am sort of lucky compared to my classmates, because I started job hunting very early this year," says Li. "The job situation is pretty awkward because we can not stay in Taiwan, but on the other hand employers on the mainland do not give us much recognition."

According to Beijing Evening News, this summer, a total of 173 students from the Chinese mainland are graduating with a master's degree from universities in Taiwan.

In 2011, 928 students from the Chinese mainland were allowed to pursue full-degree higher education in Taiwan for the first time.

According to regulations carried out by Taiwan's education department, students from the mainland can not work part time during their studies in Taiwan, and are not qualified to receive scholarships from Taiwan. Students who finish full-degree higher education in Taiwan are not permitted to stay and work.

This has aroused considerable controversy among students, most of whom feel quite upset.

This summer is also known as the "hardest graduation and job hunting season" in history. More than 6.99 million students are graduating from universities on the Chinese mainland.

Li and her classmates found most employers on the mainland are not very familiar with Taiwan's universities, which makes their job hunting quite difficult.

"I attended several job fairs both in Beijing and Shanghai," she says. "Many companies rejected our resume once they discovered that we got our degrees from universities in Taiwan. They said that they had never hired graduates from Taiwan before and had very limited knowledge about the schools we graduated from. And they would not spend much time getting to know us."

Li now works in a bank in Beijing, where she applied for an internship last summer and secured the job thanks to her performance.

Li says she did not take the restriction policies on mainland students very seriously when she arrived in Taiwan, in 2011.

"I thought things would get better in two years time," she recalls.

"Because I think it is not a good idea to restrict young people across the Straits from getting to know each other."

Aside from job hunting, there is another issue that may also raise challenges for these young people: relationships.

Gong Haixiang, a 25-year-old graduate from National Central University, will have to start a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend, who is from Taiwan, whom he started dating a year ago.

"At first I was very upset about the fact that I am not allowed to work in Taiwan only because I am a student from the mainland," Gong says.

"I hope I can work in a Taiwan-funded company in the mainland so I will have a chance to be working in Taiwan soon."

These restriction policies are already affecting those who are considering higher education in Taiwan this year, as many of them are worried about their future.

Hu Junfeng, a 25-year-old postgraduate student in National Taiwan University, will graduate at the end of this year. He says students from Chinese mainland have been expressing their displeasure regarding the employment situation every time they meet with the presidents of different universities.

Lai Ting-ming, president of Shih Hsin University in Taipei, says they do not support the work restriction policy.

"We think these restrictions are totally political and discriminating. During the past two years, we have met students from the mainland who are very competent in study and research, and we really want them to stay and work with us. But they are forced to leave because of these restrictions. We hope these restrictions can be removed as soon as possible."

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