Want to do a degree in Taipei

Sorry if this is in the wrong place but I’ve searched all the forums and can’t find one for studying!

I’ve been living in Taipei for over a year with my gf and have decided to do a degree, preferably in Actuarial Science but Maths is an acceptable second choice. I’ve read in various places that you can get a scholarship and that it’s quite easy for a foreigner; so I was wondering if anyone knows the best way to kick start the process?

Also I need some clarification on something. So far it seems too good to be true, the scholarship offers NT$30,000 per month to pay the course fees and live on (so long as minimum % requirements and attendance are met). Is this free money? Please don’t get me wrong this definitely isn’t a, “Oh wow I can swindle free money here” type of question. I come from England where it will cost almost forty thousand pounds to complete a degree so the concept that a student would be paid to complete one seems quite bizarre.

Additional info about myself: I decided to become an Actuary a few years back and have thus far self studied and completed the necessary exams to get where I am (most recently obtained was CT1: Introduction to financial mathematics). I was planning to continue self-teaching and complete CT2-8 before heading back to England looking for a trainee position because I couldn’t afford 40,000 to do a degree but now this opportunity seems to have presented itself and I would be crazy not to look into it further. Btw the CT series of exams are internal to the Actuary profession and a degree can offer exemption from these exams with a good Maths degree exempting the potential Actuary from all 8.

So yeah…if anyone can confirm the scholarship bursary payments and that it’s possible to do an Actuarial Science degree in Taipei that would be brilliant! :slight_smile:

I hope your Chinese is good because it will be hard to find a program like that taught in English. I’m at the tail-end of my Master’s degree at NTNU and for the first year, I was on scholarship. It’s just free money, although not a ton of it. When you’re done paying rent and tuition, there isn’t a lot left over for you. To clarify, are we talking about a BA or a Master’s? You may find the school environment in Taiwan to be dramatically different from that of your home country; this may not seem like a big problem at first, but it will sooner or later start to grind on your nerves.

Over my 3 years of studying a Master’s, I’ve spent about NT$30,000 a semester in tuition and charges for credits selected. Combined, that’s a total of around US$6,000 for a degree. Not bad, but there are a LOT of hiccups on the road to get there.

My Chinese level definitely isn’t good enough but I seem to have found 2 ways around that. First seems to be sort of a year long access to Chinese education course which is also covered financially. Second option is that my gf has found classes which are taught 100% English, specifically a uni in Hualien, but I was hoping this option would be available in Taipei. There are also 50/50, Chinese/English taught classes but once again I’m not sure what level my Chinese would have to be for the 50/50.

Financially I’m not too worried right now. I have a subsidiary income which is very meagre but reliable and helps to pay the bills so a NT30k bursary on top would be a pleasant addition. As it is I only pay about NT$7,500 a month for rent and bills for a 16 ping place so cost of living is low. US$6,000 for a degree beats US$60,000 lol.

As for the course and school life, I’m only looking for a BA (3yrs?). I’m 30 years old and haven’t been in education for a very long time so I wouldn’t be able to compare the school system in Taiwan to UK. May I ask what ground your nerves? Also you say, “a LOT of hiccups”…with upper case lots. I can accept a normal amount of hiccups as comes with anything in life but if it’s going to be a torrent of crap then…what were the hiccups you experienced?

There are full English programs for phd degrees down at academia sinica, but math is not among the offered curricula. It’s all applied science like physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, molecular science, agricultural science and so forth. The pay’s about 20% better than the TW scholarship (36.000/m for 3 years) and AS has a much better reputation worldwide than any TW university.

Well OP is asking about a BA degree, which by the way will require 4 years, not 3.

People talk a lot about the differences between Eastern and Western cultures, and while much of it is hot air, those differences that do exist are amplified in the school system. If any of the following are disagreeable to you, consider your options carefully.

A very rigidly structured hierarchy where the teacher is nearly immaculate and upperclassmen must be respected. Don’t question them. New recruits should be seen, not heard.

A world where academics are more important than any of the following: extra-curricular activities, sports, clubs, travel, fun. Studying is the hip thing to do, and if you are more interested in enjoying your life than hitting the books, you may be frowned upon by peers and superiors.

On the same note, very very limited vacation time (3 weeks to a month over Chinese New Year, 2 months over summer) and very stringent requirements for attendance which can cause you to fail if not met. A friend of mine in college here says he’s going to fail a course this semester because he missed more than 5 classes, EVEN THOUGH his overall grade was something like a 95.

A school culture so conservative that dorms have a curfew and men are not allowed in the women’s dorm at any hours and vice versa.

Classmates who will tell you their favorite activities are sleeping and watching TV. They probably do have real hobbies but they never talk about them. School is more important.

A very strong national sense of academic elitism where going to any school that is not NTU will get you the comment, “Oh that school’s pretty ok.” Where I’m from, there are good schools and bad schools. In Taiwan, there is only NTU.

No right to do work legally during your first year of school. Once that year is fulfilled, if your grades are in good standing, you can apply for a permit to work 16 hrs a week, but only for certain industries.

Access to plenty of quality resources, like libraries, school gym, etc., except that all the relevant information is in Chinese and most of the websites haven’t been modernized in years.

Obviously, some of that won’t ring true for English-language programs since they are trying to attract foreign students and give off an “international” vibe. A problem you may encounter there, though, is that some teachers may not be as good at English as they think they are.

On the bright side, after 4 months of study you’re entered into the National Health Insurance scheme which gives you access to cheap and high-quality healthcare. You have to pay for it each semester, but it’s cheap… something like NT$5,000 for half a year if I recall correctly. You’ll also be given an ARC, which means you have the right to stay without worrying about visa issues and what not.

Two more things to keep in mind: I’ve never heard of a Statistics curriculum in English at a Taiwanese university, but maybe that’s because I’ve never really gone looking for one. Also remember that a degree from a Taiwan university may not seem very impressive in and of itself. If you spend the four years learning outside of class about the Chinese language, local history and culture, regional issues, and the business climate, you’ll find yourself much more marketable in Taiwan or abroad after you graduate.

With all of that said, choosing to study in graduate school here is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So far. My program is on translation (taught in Chinese), so I’ve made friends with plenty of classmates from around the country and refined my speaking and writing skills by challenging myself with academic-level situations. The cultural differences are less pronounced because it’s graduate school and also because my teachers have all spent a good amount of time in other countries, but also because I expected and kind of enjoy the rigorously nerdy version of academia employed by Taiwanese universities. And of course, meeting with classmates and teachers has been a really great way to get my foot in the door in the translation industry here. As with all things related to Taiwan, it all comes down to the guanxi.

Feel free to ask me if you have any other questions.

Add a few:

A group of classmates who are expecting certain “cooperating” behaviors, like group note-sharing. You can play this to your advantage by volunteering for any heavy English language lifting. However, the notes you get back for your other classes will end up being oh-so-cute swirly handwriting. And you may not be truly accepted into that group of classmates, which can really, really suck, depending on the situation.

Generally speaking, a university that has no clue about what to do with or for you. Don’t expect much from the foreign student office; if you even get a dollop of sympathy from them, you’re doing very well. Little or no meaningful language support offered – do you really think you’re going to be able to comprehend lectures about actuarial science and read biology texts after two semesters at a language school? :astonished: If you can hook up with a study buddy who’s really into English this may improve.

NEVER really knowing what’s going on. Because even if someone tells you, and even if you read the rules, something will change. Or not be revealed. Or be “understood”.

Very basic dorm accommodations by Western standards, and high numbers of people in a room (there were 6 to a room in the undergraduate dorm at Fujen when I was there). Very basic food. Laundry hung wet in your room almost all of the time.

Requirements to do classes that range from the stupid to the incredible, with assignments that cover the same range. The Three Principles of the People. Phys Ed. Military training (don’t know about foreigners and that one though.) And “general education” stuff that must be passed, despite being farmed out to disinterested part-time teachers in many cases.

Textbooks that can often be in English, accompanied by lectures in incomprehensible Chinese (and I am remembering my reaction after using Chinese for over 10 years), and little or no feedback other than a midterm and a final, by which time it may be too late for you to save yourself if you’re in trouble.

You may be able to tell that I didn’t go to NTU. :smiley: These are observations from my years of teaching at universities public and private (including NTU) and of being a grad student at a private uni. It’s certainly cheaper than doing a degree in Britain, and depending on the school it may not be looked down upon more than a lower-tier school in the UK. But realize that NTU is about the only school anyone MIGHT have heard of outside of Taiwan other than reputations for language centers, which have nothing to do with undergraduate studies. Think carefully about this route if you are determined to work outside of Taiwan, and find out whether this degree will open the doors you hope it will. If it’s just a piece of paper with “BA” or “BS” on it, that’s one thing.

Don’t get me wrong. It would be an intersesting eperience, and if you came out of it fluent in Chinese, a very valuable one. But I’ve also known a lot of foreign students just scraping by, never really learning to speak Chinese, clutching the English language textbooks and desperately doing the tests and just hoping they can scrape through. (And that was at NTU.) Of course I’ve also known kids from banana republics thrust into remote schools in central Taiwan who came out with degrees in technical subjects and speaking fluent Mandarin and Taiwanese. So it’s not even your mileage may vary, it’s who knows what yours will be.

Ops, sorry. I misunderstood the OP. :-p



Wow dude thanks for the informative response. I’ll quickly go over my thought process for the various points you made.

The only reason I’m considering the degree in Taiwan is to gain exemptions from the CT-series of Actuarial exams while also learning Chinese. I can check beforehand whether a Math degree from a Taiwanese university will qualify for the exemptions. If the UK board of Actuaries are happy to accept it then I can start making plans safe in the knowledge that my qualification will get me what I need. I could understand why some countries would see a History or Medical degree from Taiwan in a lower light but Math is Math. 2+2 is always 4 no matter what language it’s in and I can only assume that the topics studied at degree level have got to be almost globally standardized. Also I have self-taught A-Level maths so as long as the textbooks are in English I will probably be able to teach myself most of the degree without needing to understand the Chinese spoken parts anyway lol.

As for uni life…respecting the teachers like they’re super-awesome-mega-heroes is fine by me, I don’t mind kissing some ass to get where I need to go and I’m sure there are some young women in Hollywood who have done worse so ya know…perspective and all. Socially I’m fine, I have my true blue close friends all raising families in the UK and I’ll be joining them in 5yrs or so. I’m not here to make bestest buddies with people because I spent long enough filtering through the people I met aged 16-30 in the UK to get the handful of mates I’ve got now. Of course it’ll be nice to have faces to talk to but I’m not looking for much more than that because in 5yrs when I return home there is an almost 100% chance I’ll never see any of them again! In the same light when it comes to being judged or frowned upon I can’t imagine I’d care much as I’ll be studying too hard to care about social politics.

Thanks to you also for replying.

1 - Actuarial Science has nothing to do with science, I have no idea why it’s even got science in the title. It’s basically finance, economics and maths but you are correct that my Chinese may still not be good enough to work out the non-math parts of the course. As for language support, my gf will probably be able to help out (especially if we’re at the same uni). She wont solve all problems but I’m sure she’ll be able to help out from time to time.

2 - Living with gf so accommodation isn’t an issue. We share a large 16 ping flat in Zhonghe for only 11k a month and we’ve always paid 6 months rent up front in any flat we’ve moved into so 100% accommodation is sorted. And yes those dorm rooms sound absolutely awful.

3 - We were talking about this a few days back and it does sound a bit lame buuutttt I really, really like all sports so if a few of my credits can come from playing table tennis or football then WOO! Apart from Phys Ed I’m sure I can find a few things that will garner my interest enough to gain some cheeky credits!

Anyhoo once I’ve contacted the UK actuaries organization to find out the validity of a Taiwanese Math degree then you may well be seeing a lot more of me on the boards!