President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) vowed yesterday that the government will invest over NT$50 billion in developing the nation's academic standards in next five years, during which time he expects to see at least 10 universities join the top ranks in Asia.
"I hope that in the next five years ... 10 of our universities or graduate schools will be able to achieve top ranking within Asia," he said.
"I also hope that at least one university will be able to be ranked among the top 100 worldwide in the next 10 years. This is a hope, a belief and a goal toward which we can work," he said.
Chen made the remarks as he received Jared Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University, at the Presidential Office yesterday. He said he hoped Cohon could assist Taiwan in solving the problems and deadlocks that have obstructed its educational reform.
Chen noted that Premier Yu Shyi-kun has unveiled the government's "10 New Major Construction Projects" plan and that Yu had called on the legislature to pass the Cabinet's plan to invest NT$500 billion (US$14.7 billion) in those projects within next five years.
"Out of the total investment for these major construction projects, about 10 percent of the money will be going to major academic institutions to nurture even more outstanding academic talent and raise the profile of Taiwan's academic institutions on the international stage," he said.
To highlight to importance of Carnegie Mellon University, Chen pointed out that 22 years ago, an assistant professor from the university, Chen Wen-cheng (陳文成), returned to Taiwan while it was still under martial law and later died under mysterious circumstances. [Chen Wen-cheng's bruised and battered body was discovered on the campus of National Taiwan University after he had been detained and interrogated by the Taiwan Garrison General Headquarters.]
The president suggested that while the reason for Chen Wen-chen's death remains a mystery, it was not totally unconnected with the rigorous academic training that he had received as a student at Carnegie Mellon.
Chen said that Cohon's visit was the best kind of academic exchange, given that the university chief was looking to form cooperative agreements with Taiwan's academic, industrial and government bodies.
National Chiao Tung University has already established a sister-school relationship with Carnegie Mellon and the president said he was delighted with such agreements.
He also noted that Academia Sinica has established a research center at Carnegie Mellon for work in semiconductors, multimedia and security technology.