Taiwan: About Education and Other Topics

Since few weeks, people are talking about attracting more foreign students in Taiwan and developing more classes taught in English.

Frankly speaking, there are not so many full programs taught in English in Taiwan, so attracting students from Europe and Americas is a real challenge (I am not referring to students learning Mandarin).

Beside, it seems according some comments I read that many students complain about the quality of the existing teaching. Hard to verify.

Anyway, when he was talking about foreign students, Ma (president of Taiwan) mentioned more than once “Chinese students”.

So we don’t need to be surprised by the announcement from the government to recognize the diplomas offered by 41 Chinese Universities. I remember that not a so long time ago (weeks or months), it was out of question to do so… A detail… Let’s forget about it.

As some already said and/or wrote, “it’s easier to continue teaching in Chinese than forcing professors to teach in English”.

I may add that attracting foreign professors is not an easy task either.

When the announcement was made, the DPP (opposition political party) said that it disagreed and the decision from the government could jeopardize the rights of Taiwanese students.

From that point, I have some reflections and questions:

1 – Maybe I don’t understand the consequences about recognizing 41 Chinese Universities (? 🙂 ) but I don’t see how and why the rights of Taiwanese students may be jeopardized. The DPP should be more specific and stop to just criticize if it doesn’t want to lose its credibility.

2 – But yes, if many very good students are coming to Taiwan (not just 10 or 20), for sure a lot of Taiwanese students will be in trouble: they will have to face competition and will need to work more or change their “occupations”.

3 – Yes, a lot of Universities or colleges in China are far to be at the international level (but it’s the same for Taiwan, no?) and I don’t know the details about those 41 Universities. Still, it’s not a reason to systematically downgrade Chinese Universities. Some are really very good: Beida (Beijing University), Tsinghua University, Fudan University or Shanghai Jiao Tong University, just to name some. The famous Finance professor and Chinese specialist Michael Pettis will of course agree (he is teaching in Beida).

4 – There are of course good Universities in Taiwan and good professors too. But as anyone knows, there are too many Universities and colleges: more than 180 for a country large as (roughly) Belgium. Can you believe it?

I believe Taiwan should think about Schumpeter and and his “Creative Destruction”!

5 – Now, let’s talk about quality (of students and professors): if the Ministry of Education does not change its policy soon, the best students and professors will go abroad. See for example the policies of South Korea, Hong Kong or Singapore Universities.

If Taiwan doesn’t adapt to the new challenges, it will lose for ever its competitive advantage (if any).

6 – Again, about quality: which kind of students Taiwan wants to attract from China? The very good students (and there are a lot, given the highly competitive environment) are going to USA or Europe. If they don’t have enough money or if they want to stay in Asia, they receive a lot of financial incentives from some of the best Universities – see for example what are offering Universities in HKG. And the reputation of Taiwanese Universities (most of) is far behind.

So question: why the good students from China will come to Taiwan?

One more question: if Taiwan does not attract the good Chinese students, who will come? The bad students? The troublesome students?

If yes, what will be the consequences here about the quality?

7 – According the government, undergraduate Chinese students can only go to private Universities and graduated will join the public Universities.

Why?

8 – Still according the government, when Chinese students will join the public Universities here, they will have to pay the same tuition fees than in private Universities (higher compare to the public).

Why?

That is how the government wants to attract students?

Let’s change the topic.

The president Ma is also the chairman of his political party (KMT). I do not believe that is good for the democracy. I thought the same when his predecessor became the chairman of the now opposition party (DPP).

In Europe it also happened in the past and I of course disagreed.

The president is supposed to be the president of all the population.

When he makes decisions or whatever, where is the precise line between the president and chairman jobs?

See the picture:

PHOTO: CNA

Ma (right) is chanting election slogans with the party’s candidate for Hsinchu County commissioner, Chiu Ching-chung.

I don’t know. Maybe I am thinking too much. But I believe that president and party chairman positions should be hold by different people.

Another topic: how decisions are made.

Recently, some decisions just came out of nowhere, as the rabbit from the magician top hat.

See the decision about the Chinese Universities. I am not against it but I thought that some transparency may be useful.

See about the beef story: everything but transparent. One day, the government just open the doors for the US beef without any debate. I don’t say that the US beef is bad. I just say that the way the decision was made could be different.

See about the financial MOU with China: the one in charge (in Taiwan) said before the lawmakers that the MOU will not be signed if the official titles are not mentioned. Few hours later, we learnt that the MOU was signed… Without the official titles…

Many questions and very few answers…

 

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One Response

  1. […] 2009 by fvarga I posted just 3 days ago about Education and courses taught in English in Taiwan (HERE) and the risk for Taiwan to lose its competitiveness (if […]

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