Fri, May 30, 2008 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Most of these establishments remain authoritarian because they never carried out the transition from an authoritarian regime to a democracy along together with the political sphere; their power structures are therefore top-down and they have people in charge whose core values revolve around money. They use their newly acquired status of “university” to attract more “customers,” even on weekends, while busying teachers with Continuing Education classes instead of doing research or even looking after their families.

When these universities are evaluated, they often have a rough time, with numerous departments failing inspections and others staying in place but on parole. They often refuse to admit their deficiencies, speaking of “bad luck” and hoping some political connection with the next government can help them pass the next evaluation.

The goal of maintaining a sense of harmony in universities takes precedence over the importance of forthright language. One of the main ways of maintaining harmony is emphasizing rank and position.

Most of the departments’ directors seem to enjoy tenured appointments. Reluctant to speak up or to take individual responsibility for projects and unable to envision any change, they perpetuate the system, practicing patron-client relations, appointing individuals to key positions and cultivating loyalty among those they appoint.

The first step in the evolution of an institute into a true university must be the mentality of the faculty. They must respect the students’ parents and the students, as well as accept change when the empowerment of personnel of lower rank is placed on the agenda.

Each teacher must have decision-making power and access to information and resources. They must make informed decisions, think positively on the process of bringing change about and learn new skills that improve the prospects of teacher and student. Unlimited possibilities exist in reforming an environment; the problem is where the excitement and the joie de vivre reside.

If this can be implemented, the universities will begin to produce knowledge through research, as well as be more capable of preserving and transmitting it, and will provide intellectual guidance that solves real problems facing society.

Sylvie Allassonniere

Taipei

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