In 2008 there were 59,000 unfilled vacancies for first-year students. The Ministry of Education said the total will exceed 100,000 in 2021 if steps are not taken. The ministry has decided to reduce the total enrollment quota by 2 percent every year. Even so, with the influence of the baby bust, it is estimated that enrollment will still fall short by 71,000 students.When supply of something vastly exceeds demand, look for the subsidy. The reason there are too many universities is because it is profitable for construction and other companies to open them, due to the generous subsidies. Now legislators are concerned that important cash cows in their districts may wilt -- hence the pressure by university administrators to permit Chinese students to come -- the China Cargo Cult, academic version. That gusher of warm bodies from across the Strait can save us!
Kuomintang Legislator Huang Chih-hsiung pointed out that currently there are 164 colleges and universities (excluding military and police schools and National Open University). With people having fewer and fewer children, it is predicted about one third of all colleges, or 60 schools, will go out of business, leaving only 100 or so colleges in operation.
The smart thing would be to shut down the lowest 80 or so universities, but that would lead to screaming from local legislators and from local PHDs, for whom the universities are little more than a jobs program (Taiwan churns out more than it needs, of course). In fact this year the government has quietly been handing out subsidies to local universities to take on more educated assistants -- our department hired a slew of masters degree holders under this program, for one year.
The Ministry of Education is currently working on regulations to permit universities to exit the market, covering land use, taxes, and so forth. According to another piece on this issue:
Quotas slashed? Taiwan's universities have their intakes controlled by strict quotas based on a complex formula involving number of professors, facilities, etc. At one university I worked at part time, Arkham Institute of Technology, for example, the Applied Foreign Languages Dept was limited to 100 students for its annual intake, in two classes of 50 each. Thus each year 100 students joined the four year program in theory. In reality we usually had slightly more as students transferred in from elsewhere. Because the quota restricted the intake, and because the intake was treated like a layer cake, with the top scoring students on the college entrance exams going to top universities, the second best students to the second best schools, and so on down the line, in the 1990s and early 2000s the student body in any given department at Arkham was remarkably uniform in talent and ability.
Under the new regulations, universities that fail to recruit up to 70 percent of their officially approved student numbers for three consecutive years will have their annual quotas cut by between 10 percent and 30 percent.
As a result of the regulations, no local universities will see their student quotas slashed until the 2011 school year, which critics say will hold back domestic education reforms.
However, the MoE used to regard unfilled quotas as a bad thing, and thus a trend many in the universities took hold as the number of warm bodies dried up: universities began poaching from the ranks below their quota limits. Thus at Arkham over the years I began to notice that the first 60 or so students were of the old quality, but the next 40 were not up to snuff -- they should have gone to less awesome schools. This process went on at many universities, and universities at the bottom of the ladder soon found themselves with no students at all, their students having been stolen by the universities ahead of them in the queue.
Hence, the MoE's decision to relax quota punishments means that low tier universities may continue on life support until 2011. Probably it will squeeze out another year, since 2012 is an election year and the body politic is not going to want to hear that Little Snowflake can't go to college....
- An article in Journal of Current Chinese Affairs by two local deep blue academics which offers an overview of Chinese policy toward Taiwan.
- Chen Shui-bian now says he was victim of trickery by Roger Lin and never supported the lawsuit against the US government that claimed Taiwan was a US holding.
- AIG sells Nanshan Life to Hong Kong outfit for $2.1 billion.
- Global warming to triple rain over Taiwan: "number of days with 'excessive heat'" over 36 degree Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) has doubled since 1961...." In fact before WWII it frosted every few years in the Taipei basin and bananas could not be grown there.
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