People have come up with an astonishing number of ways to play this industry-academia collaboration game. In one case, teachers in a Chinese department collaborated with a clinic to investigate the rhetoric used in composing medical records. In another, teachers in a foreign languages department cooperated with pig farms on improving pig farmers’ foreign language ability. With all these scams taking place, the departments in charge should not be indifferent to their responsibilities and ethics. It is true that the ministry recently issued a feeble notice concerning this issue, reminding schools that they should pay attention to the practical benefits that industry-academia collaboration projects offer in actually solving problems for businesses. The ministry’s notice says that schools should not overemphasize the number of industry-academia collaboration projects they register and the amount of money involved. However, one gets the impression that the ministry is once again just going through the motions and does not really intend to do anything about it.
What the ministry should do is actively investigate colleges that forge documents and register bogus industry-academia collaboration projects to fraudulently obtain government subsidies. It should introduce a whistleblower protection clause to safeguard teachers who refuse to go along with such fraudulent practices and who are brave enough to expose them, so as to rectify the situation in which teachers who commit fraud get promoted, while those who do not are not asked to re-sign their contracts. If the ministry fails to recognize the things that have gone wrong in implementing industry-academia collaboration, and if does not take responsibility for these failures, the Control Yuan should step in and do something about it.
Chou Ping is chair of Nan Hua University’s Department of Applied Sociology and a board member of the Taiwan Higher Education Union.
Translated by Julian Clegg