Seventy-two Indonesian high-school students have been awarded scholarships by Taiwan, which plans to form closer ties with Southeast Asian countries amid its New Southbound policy.

Taiwan scholarships were given to 38 high school graduates, said the Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) in Indonesia. Another six students were awarded the International Cooperation and Development Fund Scholarship, while four others were given scholarships from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

They can use the scholarships in college programs.

Another 24 students were awarded the Huayu Enrichment Scholarship (HES) to study Mandarin for six to 12 months. All of the awardees attended a briefing session organized by TETO last month, The Pie News reported on Tuesday. A total of 952 students applied for endowments to study in Indonesia this year.

John Chen, the chief at TETO in Indonesia, said Taiwan will help Indonesia, which is at the crux of Taiwan’s New Southbound policy to cultivate tertiary and technical education. He said he hopes the awardees can help firm relations between the two countries.

Last year, the Taiwan Ministry of Education’s Higher Department allocated NT$430 million (US$14.1million) to encourage local universities to broaden their internationalization efforts and their links with Southeast Asia between 2017 and 2019.

According to the Ministry of Education, the number of foreign students studying Mandarin in Taiwan doubled to about 20,000 in 2016 from 10,177 in 2007. In the academic year of 2017-18, Taiwanese universities enrolled about 41,000 tertiary students from Southeast Asia.