To reduce the burden college students face amid the economic downturn, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday it had frozen a planned tuition hike for this academic year.
“College tuition for the 2009 academic year should increase by 1.8 percent in accordance with the formula the ministry introduced last year. However, we are facing a very special situation this year, with the poor economy and high unemployment rate,” Vice Minister of Education Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳) told a press conference.
“After discussing it with the ministry, the chairmen of the three associations agreed unanimously that all the nation’s universities and colleges would not increase their tuition,” Lu said, referring to the Association of National Universities and Colleges (ANUC), the Association of Private Universities and Colleges (APUC) and the Association of Private Universities and Colleges of Technology (APUCT).
Average tuition at the nation’s public universities and colleges ranges from NT$30,000 (US$880) to NT$40,000 per semester, while the average tuition at private universities and colleges averages between NT$45,000 and NT$50,000.
Lu said that as of Monday, the ministry’s hotline for students in need had received 1,792 calls since it was launched last month.
“We all recognize the need for us to stick together in the face of economic difficulty, but in the meantime, we should retain our faith in knowledge. With more advanced knowledge, we will be able to prepare for our development in the future,” APUC chairman Lee Tien-rein (李天任) said.
ANUC Chairman Lee Si-chen (李嗣涔) said that tuition at the nation’s universities and colleges might also be lowered next year if the economic downturn continued.
The ministry had also proposed a number of projects to the Executive Yuan to allow universities and colleges to recruit more research assistants and professional teaching staff, Lu said.
If approved by the Executive Yuan during its weekly meeting today and the Legislative Yuan afterwards, the projects could create a total of 46,000 job openings at a cost of NT$19.3 billion, Lu said.
“Our universities and colleges have been suffering from a lack of funding and staffers, excessive burden on teachers and the inability to improve the standard of teaching and research,” Lu said.
He said these projects could not only help solve the nation’s unemployment problem but also improve the schools’ teaching and research capability.