Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Universities are affordable, says Presidential Office

CNA , TAIPEI

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is concerned that many people might not be able to attend college or university because they cannot afford the increasing cost of tuition, a Presidential Office official said yesterday.

James Huang (黃志芳), director of the Public Affairs Department, made the remarks to clarify any misunderstandings that may have been caused by an article on education reform which appeared on Chen's weekly online newsletter on Thursday.

In the article Chen said that college education is an investment and the trend of the future, what education activists took as a way to refute criticism that that high tuition fees may "become yet another narrow gate to turn away many college or university aspirants."

Chen said that the hope behind education reform is that "everyone can learn happily," but added it will not enable "everyone to go to National Taiwan University."

The aim behind education reform is to offer everyone the opportunity to learn, Chen continued, adding that free education will not be able to be provided. The reform aims to offer multilateral learning, he continued, but it cannot wipe out the nature of competitiveness.

Chen also said in the article that Taiwan has adopted a low-fee policy and that even the best universities usually charge relatively low tuition fees.

To narrow the gap between public and private university fees, the government has subsidized private universities up to 20 percent of the tuition fees -- a rarely seen occurance globally, he noted.

Huang said some media had taken Chen's words out of context to report that the president is not concerned about rising college and university tuition fees.

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