Sun, Oct 22, 2017 - Page 1 News List

China spurs academic exodus: scholar

PROJECT:China’s Fujian Provincial Government Education Department plans to recruit 1,000 top Taiwanese academics for its universities by 2020, a ‘Xiamen News’ report said

By Lin Hsiao-yun  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

National Taiwan University (NTU) acting president Kuo Tei-wei, second right, listens to a colleague at a meeting on the NTU campus in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The nation’s top academics are leaving the nation due to low wages and a worsening research environment, National Taiwan University (NTU) interim president Kuo Tei-wei (郭大維) said yesterday, warning against a possible collapse of the nation’s higher education system.

China’s Fujian Provincial Government Education Department has announced a plan to recruit 1,000 top Taiwanese academics to teach at its universities by 2020, a department report cited by the Chinese-language Xiamen News said on Friday.

The department intends to promote bilateral collaboration between Taiwan and China’s Fujian Province in certain disciplines and, long-term, to open universities, junior colleges and vocational schools in collaboration with Taiwanese academics, the report said.

The department plans to recruit Taiwanese academics as part of its Fujian Pilot Free Trade Zone and other industrial development projects, it said.

Asked to comment on the plan after an NTU administration meeting in Taipei yesterday, Kuo said the nation’s higher education system would collapse if more academics left to teach in other countries.

More junior and senior lecturers could leave Taiwan because of relatively low wages for academics aged between 30 and 60, and the low pensions paid to retired academics, Kuo said.

While the average age of new NTU professors is 39, their pensions are only about half of their salaries, sometimes even lower than those of teachers at elementary and junior-high schools, he said.

Some NTU professors have already left for other countries, with others still weighing their options, he said, adding that the loss of top academics would lead to the departure of top students.

Under these circumstances, the nation’s higher education system could break down if the number of top-ranking universities continues to shrink, Kuo said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education’s Yushan Project is to come into effect next year.

Under the program, professors would be able to earn up to 10 percent extra monthly in allowances.

The ministry also encourages universities to recruit top academics from overseas, who could then apply for research funding of up to NT$5 million (US$165,338) per person if their projects bear on the nation’s key development domains.

The ministry is to budget NT$5.6 billion per year for higher education, it said, adding that about 19,000 teachers could benefit from the project.

However, the Yushan Project is inadequate for top academics and the ministry should launch another project, perhaps named the “Alishan Project,” to improve the competitiveness of salaries and research grants, Kuo said.

Taiwan’s higher education system needs more exceptional and creative academics, he said, adding that not everyone with a doctorate is qualified to be a university professor.

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