The Ministry of Education yesterday rejected allegations that it was forcing universities to delay student graduations to prevent the already high unemployment rate from rising further.
Department of Higher Education Director-General Ho Cho-fei (何卓飛) said it was “impossible” for the ministry to interfere in the matter because universities had the autonomy to evaluate when their students were qualified for graduation.
A day earlier, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) accused the ministry of instructing universities to decrease the pass rate among senior students to delay their graduation.
He said the measure was aimed at controlling the unemployment rate, which climbed to 5.94 percent last month.
Wu Jui-ying (吳睿穎), executive vice president of 1111 Job Bank, said the graduation of one-third of the senior students at National Taiwan University (NTU) had been delayed this year.
While only 2.68 percent of the students did so voluntarily out of fear of entering the job market at such a difficult time, the rest were flunked by their professors, Wu said.
Ho said their claims were not grounded in fact and that there had not been any significant change in the number of students who have delayed their graduation over the past several years.
In the 2007-2008 academic year — the latest year for which data are available — 47,127 students delayed graduation, marking only a slight increase from 47,094 in the 2006-2007 academic year and 46,897 in 2005-2006, Ho said.
Although the data for the this academic year will not be available until October, Ho predicted that the number would be similar to previous years.
Meanwhile, NTU officials said 1,034 students delayed graduation in the 2007-2008 academic year, accounting for 29 percent of the total number who were supposed to graduate that year.
Their reasons for delaying graduation were as follows: 176 still had to finish minor courses or double degree programs, 17 had unfinished intramural courses, 77 took part in exchange programs overseas, while more than 700 were preparing for entrance examinations for graduate schools, the officials said.
NTU spokesman Liao Hsien-hao (廖咸浩) said the numbers were reasonable.
Liao, a former director of the Taipei City Government’s cultural bureau during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) stint as Taipei mayor, said qualified students were completely free to graduate whenever they chose, so long as it was within the maximum allowed period of study.