The Ministry of Education considers international cooperation and collaboration a cornerstone of its efforts to embrace internationalization, especially for institutions of higher education. The number of international degree students, language students, and exchange students studying in Taiwan has increased to 44,165 in 2011, a significant increase from 2006, when international student enrolment was only 26,488.
The MOE established the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations (BICER) in 1947 to promote international academic and cultural exchange, along with providing international students wishing to study in Taiwan with assistance, especially with their government scholarship applications and information about Taiwan. In 2002, the Academia Sinica, Taiwan's foremost research institution, established the Taiwan International Graduate Program (TIGP), a Ph.D. program promoting international cooperation and scholarly exchange, along with cultivating an intellectual environment for promising young scholars.
TIGP students benefit from an entirely English teaching and research environment, while enjoying access to top scholars, teaching faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities at the Academic Sinica and partner universities. Currently, there are 340 international students representing 35 countries enrolled in TIGP, which offers nine programs to choose from.
Meanwhile, the number of programs and courses taught in English in Taiwan is on the increase. For example, National Taiwan University, National Chengchi University, National Tsing Hua University, National Chiao Tung University and National Sun Yat-sen University all offer programs for international students on a variety of subjects ranging from science to the social sciences.
In addition to efforts made to create an internationalized environment for academic study, Taiwan is an ideal study destination for several reasons. According to the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET), these reasons include the fact that Taiwan has a highly democratic government within a Mandarin-Chinese environment, its rich cultural heritage, its advanced technology and its breath-taking travel destinations and sights. Taiwan can be roughly divided into two geographic sections; the flat, gently rolling hills to the west, where 90% of the population lives, and the rugged, forest-covered mountains to the east. There are eight national parks showcasing the diverse terrain and the flora and fauna of the island. In addition, Taiwan is rich in the diversity of its biological species, boasting more than 50,000 endemic species, or 2.5% of the world's total, according to a survey released by the Council of Agriculture. The warm, welcoming personality of the Taiwanese people is widely acknowledged by international students and visitors as this nation's unique international 'trademark'.