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Education Leaders from Taiwan and France Gather at Educational Forum

To enhance higher education exchanges between Taiwan and France, the '2024 Taiwan-France Higher Education Leaders Forum' was held under the auspices of Taiwan's Ministry of Education (MOE). This collaborative effort involved the NTNU, the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET), the French Office in Taipei, and Campus France Taiwan. The forum, which convened at the NTNU on March 11th and 12th, drew over 60 representatives from more than 30 Taiwanese educational institutions. They were joined by Mon-Chi Lio, Political Deputy Minister of the MOE, and Dr. Nicole Yen-Yi Lee, Director-General of the MOE Department of International and Cross-Strait Education. Discussants included 20 representatives from 7 French institutions, focusing on strategies to boost internationalization in higher education, promote scientific and technological research, foster industry-academia collaboration, advance talent development, and improve language instruction. These discussions aimed to deepen the impact of bilateral academic cooperation.

In his opening remarks, Vice Minister Mon-Chi Lio noted that Taiwan and France have signed 875 academic cooperation agreements, covering dual degrees, joint research, faculty-student exchanges, and collaborations in key scientific areas. There are over 350 Taiwanese students in France and nearly 1,740 French students in Taiwan, indicating a vibrant educational partnership.

Representing French institutions were Deputy General Director Béatrice Khaiat of Campus France; Vice President Lewis Dean of France Universités; and Director Franck Paris of the French Office in Taipei. In his remarks, Director Paris emphasized the importance of Taiwan as a crucial international education partner, noting the forum's significance in fostering scientific and technological cooperation and building bridges between democracies.

Addressing the forum in a video message, Representative Chih-Chung Wu of the Taipei Representative Office in France, highlighted that the forum this year was attended by most representative French delegation to date. He thanked both sides for expanding opportunities for collaboration and for contributing to intellectual freedom and global sustainability. He underscored the critical role of language in achieving academic excellence and global influence, enhancing international perspectives, and bolstering bilateral exchanges.

Cheng-Chih Wu, President NTNU and Chairman of FICHET, reflected on the origins of cooperation between Taiwan and France. He recounted the pivotal first visit by French delegates in 2016, which sparked collaborative ventures with the MOE and FICHET, leading to the first Taiwan-France University Presidents Forum in 2017. This event established a solid foundation for ongoing cooperation and communication. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the partnership continued virtually with bilateral engagement in two online roundtable discussions.

The forum this year began with a joint presentation by Kao-Hsien Liao, Deputy Director-General of the MOE's Department of International and Cross-Strait Education, and Deputy Director-General Khaiat of Campus France. They shared updates on the recent advancements in bilateral scientific research and higher education cooperation between Taiwan and France.

Deputy Director Liao reported that from 2023 to 2024, 1,737 French students are expected to study in Taiwan, with 385 Taiwanese students studying in France. This cultural and educational exchange encompasses both language learners and MOE scholarship recipients, highlighting the strong educational bridge between the two countries. To further support this exchange, both governments initiated the Taiwan-France Foreign Language Intern Program in 2008. This program has since enabled 234 French students to assist in teaching French in Taiwan and 236 Taiwanese students to teach Chinese in France.

Addressing the challenges facing Taiwan's higher education sector, such as industrial structural changes, globalization, and environmental issues, Deputy Director Liao outlined the Taiwanese government's strategic responses. These include creating 76 research centers across 24 universities, supporting semiconductor industry-academia collaboration, developing Chinese-language teaching talent, and establishing FICHET to enhance international exchanges. Through these initiatives, Taiwan seeks to cultivate a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship with its international partners.

Deputy Director-General Khaiat emphasized France's commitment to educational excellence and research innovation. She outlined several incentives France offers to international students, including tuition discounts, English-medium instruction (EMI) courses, and work and residence permits, as well as tourist visas. These initiatives have attracted a considerable number of international students, including 1,200 from Taiwan. She hopes that these policies will draw even more international students to consider France as a destination for further education.

President Wen-Chang Chen of National Taiwan University (NTU) made introductory remarks in the second morning session of the forum, followed by a presentation on 'Creating Industry-University Partnerships for Scientific Research and Development,' delivered by NTU Vice President for Research and Development, Dr. Chung-Chih Wu. Dr. Wu emphasized the importance of collaboration between industry and academia within Taiwan's higher education sector, noting the critical role these partnerships play in narrowing the divide between academic research and industrial application, thereby elevating Taiwan's position on the global stage. He detailed the government's strategy for encouraging such collaborations, which includes providing funding, offering regulatory flexibility, and facilitating infrastructure development.

Dr. Wu used the cooperation between NTU and leading semiconductor companies such as TSMC, NVIDIA, and Intel as examples of effective industry-academic collaboration. He showcased specific initiatives, like the TSMC-NTU and MEDIATEK-NTU partnerships, which not only provide valuable resources for students but also serve as benchmarks for dynamic cooperation between universities and industries.

On the first afternoon of the forum, President W. John Kao of National Tsing Hua University engaged in a dialogue with Dean Lewis, Vice President of France Universités and President of the University of Bordeaux, focusing on 'Key Development Points for Taiwan-France Science and Technology and Talent Cooperation.' Their discussion covered critical sectors such as semiconductors, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and green energy. They shared insights on successful research collaborations and talent development strategies. Moderated by Vice President Yung-Hsiang Ying of NTNU, four representatives from Taiwanese and French institutions delved into the EU Erasmus Mundus Program and the European University Alliance, underscoring the myriad opportunities for higher education collaboration.

Focus on the second day of the forum shifted to “The Pivotal Role of Universities in Promoting the Chinese and French Languages.” Panelists, including Director Yi-De Liu of the NTNU Office of International Affairs; President Jean-François Huchet of the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures in France; Vice President of International Affairs Nil Toulouse from the University of Lille; and Director Jean-Yves Heurtebise of the Department of French Language and Culture Fu Jen Catholic University, discussed innovative teaching methodologies and strategies for language promotion.

The first Taiwan-France higher education forum began in March 2016 with the 'Taiwan-French University Presidents Forum,' held in Kaohsiung; followed by the 'Taiwan-France Higher Education Forum' in Reims, France, in July 2017. To sustain the momentum of Taiwan-France higher education exchanges during the pandemic, two virtual 'Taiwan-France Online Roundtables' were organized in October 2020 and April 2021. This year's forum represents the first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic, with France poised to host the next forum, signifying a continued commitment to fostering educational and cultural exchanges.

Event webpage: https://bds.oia.ntnu.edu.tw/bds/en/web/2024forum