More than half of Taiwan's university freshmen spend less than one hour per day studying outside of school, something that bodes ill for the country's competitiveness, according to the author of a survey released on Wednesday.
The survey, conducted by 40 education specialists, found more than half of freshmen either didn't study at all or spent less than one hour per day on their studies outside the classroom.
According to the survey, the situation is similar among college seniors -- 49 percent of males and 33 percent of female seniors study less than one hour per day.
The survey also found that more than 40 percent of seniors at state-run universities and colleges are working part-time, a much higher figure than their counterparts at private universities and colleges.
This contradicts a commonly held belief that students at private universities and colleges are more likely to work on the side while pursuing their studies.
Peng Sheng-ming (彭森明), a visiting professor at National Taiwan Normal University who led the study, explained at a press conference to announce the survey's results that at public schools, students are finding it easier to land jobs as tutors -- the most common type of part-time work for university students.
Working is not necessarily harmful to their studies, if it puts into practice the knowledge and skills students learn at school, Peng said, adding that jobs of this kind could be considered a valuable on-the-job learning experience that allows the students to study while putting them in a good position to seek full-time jobs after graduation.
However, Peng said, the more time university students spend on their studies the more competitive they will be in the job market.
Noting that 85 percent of the country's high school graduates are admitted to universities and colleges every year, Peng said it was "pitiful" that so many university students fail to make good use of these opportunities.
Peng, who worked for the US Department of Education for more than 20 years, said the trend is especially worrisome in light of the fact that US college students spend more time on studies than they did in senior high school.
The survey is based on responses from more than 40,000 freshmen and seniors and is the first of a series of surveys conducted under a program sponsored by the National Science Council.