Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Equalizing university resource distribution

By Yen Hong Ling 葉紘麟

National Taiwan University (NTU) has received a massive amount in donations this year. After Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) donated NT$15 billion to NTU for biomedical development and cancer treatment in September, Quanta Computer Inc (廣達電腦) vice chairman C.C. Leung (梁次震) also donated NT$205 million to the school's physics department this month to establish a new research center.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has encouraged colleges and universities to raise funds themselves since the education budget was frozen in 1997. Of all the schools, NTU has the best fund-raising ability, and it is the envy of other schools that receive little attention.

Indeed, donations to schools for research purposes allow them to carry out large projects. However, when enterprises make large donations, the problem of resource distribution is highlighted, as humanities and social science colleges seldom receive large donations.

Humanities and social science colleges are praised as being in the "industry of creativity." But industry support for them is insignificant when compared to the information or optoelectronics industry. For example, when the NTU's Department of Electrical Engineering building was nearly completed, the construction of the College of Social Science had just begun, and the College of Liberal Arts was still in the planning stage.

The spectacular new building for the College of Public Health was completed, while the College of Social Science was still struggling with its dream of promoting an East Asian renaissance. Just walking past these buildings, the contrast between them is striking.

As for scholarships, there is also a huge gap between the colleges. As I reviewed NTU's list of scholarships for different colleges, the number and dollar amount of scholarships for the College of Social Science is far below what is offered in the Colleges of Science and Engineering, again reflecting uneven resource distribution.

The unfavorable position of the College of Social Science and other liberal arts institutions is mostly a result of social prejudice. The keen support of government and industry only make the situation more obvious.

After all, the College of Social Science can hardly produce technical personnel who can make money for enterprises and conglomerates right after graduation.

Naturally, the industry is not interested in graduates from such colleges. However, unlike the Colleges of Science and Engineering, it does not take much for the College of Social Science and other humanities departments to promote their overall research standards and quality.

It is possible to narrow the enterprise donation gap between different colleges. Besides setting up special accounts to appropriate such funds, schools can try to convince donors to donate part of the donation for other school affairs. Also, the government can lift the tax-deduction quota for donations to social science or humanities colleges, so as to encourage enterprises to make donations to them.

In the NTU's case, apart from its strong fund-raising ability, an appropriate resource distribution method is necessary. It is hoped that sponsors can show direct support to the NTU's College of Social Science, and it should think over the distribution and use of its resources, rather than turning these colleges into a "third world" of resource distribution.

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