The Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council yesterday publicized results of its evaluation of 418 academic departments and graduate schools during the first half of last year, with National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) surprising many by having all of its undergraduate departments under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences listed in the watch list.
At a press conference, Roger Chen (陳致遠), president of the council, said that of the 418 academic departments and graduate schools from the nine universities evaluated in the first half of last year, 376 of them, or 89.95 percent, passed the evaluation.
The remaining 42 undergraduate departments and graduate schools were placed on the watch list and will undergo a follow-up evaluation in March next year, Chen said.
The council is a semi-official organization co-founded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and universities in 2005.
Chen said the departments and graduate schools were evaluated in accordance with their objectives and characteristics, their courses and teaching conditions, their research performance, the learning environment of their students and performance of alumni.
“The primary focus of the evaluation was to review the departments’ input [to their students] and their [teaching] process,” Chen said.
Chen said the council’s reviewers put emphasis on whether the departments and graduate schools had set objectives and knew how to improve themselves.
“But many departments and graduate schools set too many objectives and failed to dedicate enough resources to fulfill all of the objectives,” he said.
Chen said that the purpose of the evaluation was to encourage academic departments and graduate schools to establish a self-evaluation mechanism, adding that the reviewed departments and graduate schools should respond to reviewers’ improvement suggestions positively.
Department of Higher Education Director-General Ho Cho-fei (何卓飛) said at a separate setting that academic departments and graduate schools on the watch list would be forced to shut down if they fail to pass the council’s next evaluation, but they could still survive if they remain on the watch list.
However, several schools that had departments or graduate schools on the watch list questioned the credibility of the evaluation.
Wang Tien-ko (王天戈), dean of NTHU’s Office of Academic Affairs, defended the school’s performance.
The university’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Institute of NanoEngineering and MicroSystems and Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Science were included in the watch list partly for lack of adequate teaching staff.
Wang said that many of the senior professors in the school’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences had retired and that the teaching positions were temporarily filled by part-time teachers because the school had a strict employment process.
Wang said the evaluation result was “unacceptable,” adding that the evaluation criterion should be adjusted in accordance with different academic fields.
Lee Ai-an (李艾安), secretary-general of Kainan University, which had 18 departments and graduate schools on the watch list, said the school had fewer resources compared with other schools as it was just established eight years ago.