Making reasonable adjustments to public university tuition fees is not a matter of exploiting students, and it would not be an obstacle to social mobility. For really talented students, there are plenty of scholarships on offer from renowned colleges in Taiwan and abroad. The problem lies with those students who only aim to muddle along under the protective umbrella of the low-fee system.
If Taiwan really wants to foster top world-class universities, it will have to take the key steps of removing the protections given to public universities and relaxing restrictions on private colleges. If it can eliminate poor-quality national universities and just keep the minority of “Taiwanese Berkeleys,” while encouraging and cultivating a few “Taiwanese Stanfords,” they can become the pride of the nation, and it would be good news for those students who have the ambition to excel.
We must decide: Do we want to savor “beef noodles,” or are we content to eat nothing but bland “vegetable noodles” forever?
Eric Wang is a professor of economics at National Chung Cheng University.
Translated by Julian Clegg