Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Block on tuition fee hikes angers college presidents

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Colleges that have accrued a financial surplus in the last three years will not be able to raise tuition fees for the next school year, Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) said on Monday.

But, according to Chen Teh-hua (陳德華), director of the ministry's department of higher education, schools with a cash surplus lower than 15 percent of their total cash receipts over the past three years will be allowed to raise tuition fees in September.

However, the ministry's policy has enraged a number of college principals, public and private.

Under the new regulations, public colleges will have more room to maneuver when raising tuition fees since the fees they charge are around half of what private colleges demand.

In contrast, private colleges that have 20,000 to 30,000 students and boast a larger bank balance will not be permitted to raise fees.

Tu said that the ministry would ask those colleges approved to raise tuition fees to allocate 5 percent of their takings to fund grants for high-performing students. The ministry also said it was preparing a fund to subsidize needy students who are enrolled at colleges that elect to increase tuition fees.

"I understand that the school authorities need budgets large enough to run their colleges. But they can't just raise tuition fees if they feel like it," Tu said. "The ministry has already analyzed the reports of the colleges' financial circumstances and will make fair assessments according to the information we received."

A number of principals may organize protests against the new policy, said Liu Yuan-chun (劉源俊), president of the private Soochow University.

"Tu's new policies are unprofessional," Liu said. "Many people think that private colleges are rich, but actually we encounter a lot of problems that public schools do not face."

An increasing number of private colleges have had difficulties in enrolling new students, Liu said.

By the middle of last month, more than 90 percent of schools had decided to raise tuition fees by at least 3 percent for the next school year, insisting that if they did not hike up the fees, they would not be able to run the schools properly and the quality of the education they offered might deteriorate.

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