President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that he envisions the nation with at least one university ranked among the world's top 100 within 10 years.
He made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 2005 National Colleges, Universities and Graduate Schools Expo at National Taiwan University.
With the number of colleges and universities having increased rapidly, the overall investment in higher education, including government appropriation and funds raised by individual colleges and universities, has also shown dramatic growth, Chen said. The investment was NT$177 billion (US$5.619 billion) in 2001, but has increased to NT$207.8 billion, or an increase of 17 percent last year.
To further promote higher education, the government has mapped out a project to develop world-class universities and top research programs, he said.
The government will invest NT$50 billion (US$1.587 billion) over a five-year period starting this year for the project, hoping to make at least 10 top research centers and fields of study number one in Asia within five years, and for at least one university to be included in the world's top 100 within 10 years.
Chen also cited figures to drive home the government's devotion to higher education.
He said the government's funding for higher learning has increased to NT$83.4 billion this year from NT$72.7 billion last year. Of the figure, NT$10 billion has been used to subsidize top universities, NT$1 billion has been used to promote excellent teaching, and NT$300 million has been used to promote cooperation between the industrial and the academic sectors.
Regarding next year's budget for higher learning, he said the Ministry of Education has decided to raise funding to NT$89.8 billion. Of that, NT$10 billion will be given to top universities, NT$5 billion will be used to promote excellent teaching, and NT$2 billion will be used to promote cooperation between the industrial and academic sectors.
In view of recent student protests over rising tuition fees, Chen said the government is soliciting funding and providing scholarship application information so that students who pass the college entrance examination will be able to afford to attend college.
He stressed that the government attaches great importance to the financial burden on students, saying that in addition to increasing the student loan quotas and cutting interest rates, the Ministry of Education has also compiled information on scholarships and financial assistance provided by government agencies, schools, foundations, enterprises and individuals and posted the information on its Web site.
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