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President Ma meets scholars attending 2nd Taiwan-Florida Higher Education Conference

President Ma Ying-jeou on the afternoon of July 23 at the Presidential Office met with scholars attending the 2nd Taiwan-Florida Higher Education Conference. The president, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, expressed his deep appreciation to the guests for making the trip to Taiwan in an effort to promote higher education exchanges.

The president said that last year Taiwan and Florida signed a memorandum of cooperation that paved the way for educational exchange. At the first conference, representatives from the two sides engaged in discussions on topics such as exchange students, joint degrees, and research cooperation. This year's conference is being held at Tunghai University in central Taiwan, providing both sides an opportunity to interact and engage in further cooperation, he said. At this year's conference, Taiwan universities and the University of Florida system will sign agreements on exchange students and academic research cooperation, the president noted, which will open the door to more comprehensive cooperation in the higher education system between Taiwan and Florida.

President Ma stated that the Ministry of Education in 2000 established the Taiwan-Florida Scholarship, providing NT$10 million for students from cooperating universities here to apply for admission to universities in Florida. In addition to Florida, over the past five years Taiwan has signed 14 memoranda with other states and organizations, including Utah, the California Department of Education, and the American Institute in Taiwan on a wide range of education-related cooperation and exchanges, such as bringing English teachers to Taiwan and introducing Chinese language teachers to various places in the United States. Over the past five years, he said, 145 colleges and universities in Taiwan and 629 universities in the United States have signed 1,496 academic interaction agreements, which marks a record high for Taiwan in this field. These agreements have also created a new milestone in fostering the internationalization of Taiwan's campuses, he said.

President Ma also related his personal experience, saying that when he was a junior in university, he went to the United States for a three-month period as an exchange student. After he graduated, he returned to the United States to further his studies. He said that international education and academic interaction can have a long lasting impact on students. In light of this, he said he hopes that academic exchanges of this sort will continue and spur greater internationalization of Taiwan's academic environment.

The scholars attending the 2nd Taiwan-Florida Higher Education Conference were accompanied to the Presidential Office in the afternoon by Education Minister Wu Ching-ji to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu.

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