President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) vowed yesterday to increase the education budget by NT$24 billion (US$792 million) a year after taking office and that part of the increase would raise the salaries of university professors to prevent a scramble for talent.
Ma made the remarks after a meeting with Google Greater China president Lee Kai-fu (李開復) in Taipei to discuss a number of issues, including higher education and the venture capital market.
Ma said that Lee pointed out that the salaries of local university professors are two to three times less than those of China’s top universities, and, in some cases, are only near the amount that Google’s entry-level employees make.
“If the situation continues, Taiwan will lose talent to other countries,” Ma said, reiterating his promise to increase the education budget.
In his recent meeting with education representatives from southern Taiwan, who lamented the insufficient budget, Ma promised to increase the education budget annually by 0.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, equaling about NT$24 billion a year, or nearly NT$200 billion over eight years.
In the same meeting, Ma also said that the Ministry of Education would reserve one percent of its college enrollments for foreign students, to make it easier for students from abroad to pursue higher education in Taiwan.
Lee said Taiwan has too many research universities, and even though faculty members in Chinese universities are not as good as those in Taiwan, Chinese students work much harder than their Taiwanese counterparts, a point with which Ma agreed.
The president-elect said three goals could be achieved by recognizing Chinese diplomas. Recruiting top students from China could serve as an incentive to Taiwanese students. Allowing students from across the Taiwan Strait could encourage friendship while solving the problem of an insufficient number of enrollments for certain universities in Taiwan.
On venture capital, Ma said Taiwan’s venture capital market used to be the second biggest in the world next to the NASDAQ in the US, but has gone from bad to worse.
“I will try to revitalize the capital market after I take office,” Ma said. “The most important thing is to loosen up restrictions and to open up [to foreign funds].”
Describing Lee as a “technology expert with a concern for humanity,” Ma said he not only admired Lee’s suggestions, but also was moved by them.
In related news, vice president-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) said yesterday that the incoming administration will make every effort to improve the country’s economy by creating a better investment climate and expanding domestic demand.
Siew made the remarks while delivering a speech entitled “A Dynamic Economy, a Sustainable Taiwan — New Blueprint for Taiwan’s Economic Development” at the opening of a workshop on local development held at Touliu Industrial Park in Yunlin County.
He said the KMT administration will implement its 12 major development projects, speed up industrial renovation and economic globalization, upgrade tax efficiency and equality, narrow the gap between rich and poor, uphold social justice and build a sustainable environment for the country.