Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Chinese students’ grievances mishandled: ministry

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff writer, with CNA

An image of a letter sent by Fu Jen Catholic University to faculty members is shown on professor Ho Tung-hung’s Facebook timeline yesterday.

Screengrab from Ho Tung-hung’s Facebook

Complaints from Chinese students and parents were inappropriately handled by the University Entrance Committee for Mainland Chinese Students and Fu Jen Catholic University (FJU), the Ministry of Education said on Tuesday.

In a letter sent to faculty, the university said that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) had received multiple reports from Chinese students and parents saying that a professor at the school was trying to instill their personal ideology in students, online news site Storm Media (風傳媒) reported on Tuesday.

The letter said that the TAO had asked the committee to reduce the private university’s enrollment quota for Chinese students.

The nation’s private universities have for years suffered from low enrollment, with many facing closure or having already closed.

Complaints had been made by Chinese students at FJU, as well as National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), the ministry said.

The committee informed the universities about the students’ complaints and the TAO’s demand, and asked them to provide an explanation, the ministry said.

However, FJU forwarded the committee’s message to its various academic departments as a reminder to instructors to pay attention to the learning environment of Chinese students at the school, the ministry said.

Although the committee and FJU were responding to complaints made by Chinese students, their citing of the “guiding opinions” of the TAO in communicating the complaints was “inappropriate,” the ministry said.

The ministry has asked the committee and FJU to fix the administrative error by issuing a clarification indicating that they respect the professional viewpoint of the university’s instructors and that academic instruction would be based on the communication and discussion of academic topics, thereby safeguarding students’ rights and interests, it said.

The ministry also said that in response to the committee’s notice, NCKU said it supports an atmosphere of academic freedom and respects “personal academic ideals,” adding that the university would not interfere with that atmosphere or ideals.

NCKU reminded its faculty that the content of its instruction should be based on the communication of academic topics, the ministry said.

The committee and universities should, when interacting with China, maintain national dignity and academic freedom, the ministry said in the statement.

Taiwan is responsible for setting the enrollment quota for Chinese students, the ministry said, adding that it would not interfere with the academic freedom of universities or professors due to the incident.

FJU’s campus culture is simple, free and “does not involve politics,” FJU said in a statement.

The university cares deeply about all of its students, regardless of the channel through which they entered the school, it said, adding that it respects the professional autonomy of its instructors and hopes that the content of its courses would be academic, allowing students to learn in a simple environment.

The wording of the “reminder” in the letter it forwarded from the committee was “inaccurate” and caused misunderstandings, it said, adding that it would rectify matters.

The committee’s original intention was simply to pass on the opinion of the Chinese officials and students, committee executive secretary Chang Hong-de (張鴻德) said yesterday.

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