Wed, Oct 08, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Group fighting for community colleges

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Association for the Promotion of Open University Law (開放大學法推動聯盟) was created yesterday in a bid to get the Ministry of Education to recognize community college diplomas.

Ku Chung-hwa (顧忠華), convener of the association and a professor of sociology at National Chengchi University, said at a news conference that more than 50 legislators endorsed the draft of the Open University Law and had submitted it to the Legislative Yuan.

Ku said that there is a great demand for higher education among adults who missed the opportunity to go to college in their youth.

"In Taiwan, about 10 million people over the age of 30 never went to college. Many of them did not make it because of the poor economic situation or because their families opposed it. Now that these people are fulfilling their dream by attending a community college, the ministry does not formally accept their diplomas, which is unfair," Ku said.

Community colleges are currently regulated under the Law of Lifelong Learning (終身學習法). This law does not recognize the efforts of learners effectively and concretely, Ku said.

Although the ministry accepts credits awarded by community colleges, these credits do not mean anything unless the students continue their studies at a formal college, Ku said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓), one of the legislators who supported the draft of the Open University Law, said the law was drafted to combine higher education with lifelong learning and to bring about an effective educational organization for people who continue their studies.

Education Minister Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村), who also attended the news conference, said there had been strong criticism that there were too many students attending college, and consequently too many people with diplomas.

"I totally support the new law, but I think people need to adjust their expectations first, otherwise there will be another war of diplomas," Huang said.

Representatives of the Open University (空中大學) also had reservations about the law.

"The Open University was founded in 1984 and has been approved by the ministry as part of formal higher education. We urged Mr. Ku not to give their association a name similar to ours, which might mislead the public," said Yang Chia-Hsin (楊家興), dean of the Open University.

Yang said that the Open Uni-versity does not want to fall under the new law if it gets passed.

"The Open University teaches entire academic courses, while community colleges also present courses like folk dancing or cooking, for which students receive credits. I think this situation should be clarified first," Yang said.

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