Fri, Jun 08, 2018 - Page 8 News List

NTU still punching well above its weight

By Michael Lin 林子堯

In the past few years, National Taiwan University (NTU) has become embroiled in a series of disputes that have snowballed into full-blown scandals, divided opinion and, in the eyes of many, decimated the reputation of the nation’s most respected academic institution.

However, this year, NTU has maintained its position in the 51st to 60th bracket of the top 100 global academic institutions, the results of this year’s Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings showed.

Despite facing a wave of ridicule from all quarters, the result affirms the teaching quality and reputation of the nation’s leading university.

The rankings are compiled by the world’s leading academics, who select 15 universities based on their personal preferences.

The results are then aggregated into an overall ranking.

Although the approach means that support for Asian institutions mostly comes from other Asian schools, the results clearly demonstrate the high regard with which NTU is held in Asian academic circles.

Japan’s University of Tokyo, with its long history, was ranked the most respected in Asia, followed by China’s Tsinghua University and Peking University.

NTU’s budget is only a sixth of the budget for China’s top two universities, but it was still able to feature close to them the rankings.

Furthermore, China’s Zhejiang University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University scored lower than NTU, despite having vastly larger budgets.

This proves the talent and capability of those in Taiwanese higher education, which is built on a strong foundation that cannot be obtained merely by spending vast sums of money.

There has been a great deal of hype over the past few months, during which it has sometimes seemed as if Taiwanese higher education is nearing total collapse.

Add to this the financial incentives and preferential policies offered by Beijing to lure Taiwanese to China and it seems as if the only option for high-school graduates would be to go to China to further their education.

However, the report that accompanies the rankings shows that the reputations of Chinese universities have begun to slide.

Taiwanese students who are considering going to China to study really need to do their homework and think carefully before making a decision.

The rankings demonstrate that the value of an academic institution is not dictated by its leaders or the size of its budget, but instead by the contribution its teaching and research makes to society and the wider world.

Fu Ssu-nien (傅斯年), one of the founders of Academia Sinica, used to say: “We offer university as a contribution to the spirit of the universe.”

This should be what Taiwanese higher education aspires to.

Since the rankings have awarded NTU a positive reputation, its teachers should not put themselves down unnecessarily.

Instead they should feel proud that, despite a diminished budget in comparison with many in other universities in the world, they are able to punch well above their weight.

Michael Lin is a postgraduate student at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development.

Translated by Edward Jones

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