University tuition fees will not be raised this year, Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said yesterday, citing mounting social tensions over increasing living costs.
As part of the government’s efforts to maintain social stability, the ministry rejected a recommendation by experts to increase university tuition fees by 1.76 percent, Chiang said during a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee.
However, Chiang said that during the next six months, the ministry would formulate a plan for a regular adjustment of tuition fees in hopes of ending the constant dispute over the issue.
The plan would likely take into consideration the operating costs of universities and would be aimed at finding a solution that was acceptable to all sectors of society, he said.
Other options — aside from the rigid mathematical formula that is used now — are being considered, Chiang added.
One possibility would be gradually raising fees at public universities until they reached the same level as private universities, he said, adding that this would reduce government subsidies for public universities so that the money could be used to provide financial aid to economically disadvantaged students.
In response to the ministry’s decision to freeze tuition fees, university officials said this only served to delay and magnify the problem.
Chiang Been-huang (蔣丙煌), dean of academic affairs at National Taiwan University (NTU), said universities, which have not raised their tuition fees since 2008, are facing a widening shortfall between revenues and expenditures.
With utility and personnel costs increasing, NTU is already suffering from a fiscal deficit of NT$200 million (US$6.78 million), he said, adding that this left the university no other choice but to postpone certain projects.
Association of Private Universities and Colleges secretary-general Hsiang Ching (項靖) said the failure of tuition fees to reflect rising costs would eventually take its toll on services provided to students.