EVERY year tertiary institutions in Taiwan vet over 1,000 Hong Kong students. The attraction of studying in Taiwan lies in the difference in the education structure there, and in the chance to study subjects not easily pursued in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong students in Taiwan must adapt to a different university set-up, said a spokesman for the Chinese Culture Association, which handles applications for Hong Kong students heading for the island republic. 'Taiwan has about 130 tertiary institutions, some of which are public universities and some 'independent colleges', ' the spokesman said. 'The major difference is that the public universities are financed by the Government and have more than one faculty, while the independent colleges are self-funded and have only one faculty.' Over the past few years, medicine has emerged as one of the most popular study areas among Hong Kong students, who face stiff competition finding places for medical studies here. Only the University of Hong Kong and Chinese University offer medicine. 'Hong Kong students hoping to study medicine in Taiwan want to know if they can practise when they get back to the territory after graduation. 'Now they can take a professional exam introduced by the Hong Kong Hospitals Authority, which will validate their professional qualifications once they pass the exam.' A degree course in a Taiwan university costs over $30,000 a year, while an independent college costs between $20,000 and $30,000, depending on expenses incurred for the degree. The application procedure involves an admission exam in June for which students must apply in April. The results of successful candidates are sent to various universities for selection. Candidates with marginal results are requested to take 'preliminary classes' before starting their formal education in Taiwan. 'The admission exam results are considered along with the Hong Kong student's HKCEE results or her internal secondary school exams. Once a student gains admission to a university, he must apply for a student visa, which is not difficult to get.' Since 1992, the Taiwanese Government has been allocating not less than 15 per cent of its budget for tertiary education, indicating the importance the Government places on education. The Government's Executive Yuan (a body similar to a Cabinet in a parliamentary system) offers scholarships to Hong Kong students every year. Students who score an average of 75 per cent in their school exams are eligible for scholarships. The organising committee of the Yuan will consider the individual student's merits and academic potential. Hong Kong tertiary students can ask to have their academic credits transferred to Taiwan universities, depending on individual demands. 'Sometimes students can take their second or final year in a Taiwan university if the university recognises the credits gained in Hong Kong,' the spokesman said.