Travel industry veteran and Alliance Culture Foundation chairman Stanley Yen (嚴長壽) questioned the state of higher education in Taiwan on Sunday, voicing concern over the glut of graduates from “homogenized” universities that fail to teach students skills that are either practical or in local demand.
Speaking on the topic “Education Should Be Different” at a Taipei university, Yen said that more than 800,000 people in Taiwan have obtained master’s degrees and doctoral degrees, but most of them would likely be unable to channel what they learned into real-world careers.
At a time when local universities are increasingly losing their distinctiveness, Yen criticized those politicians who continue to propose the building of new schools in their districts.
It was imperative for Taiwan to try to export its education system because the higher education system would soon have a large surplus of openings, Yen said.
The nation’s universities have the capacity to enroll 300,000 students each year, far in excess of the 160,000 children born last year.
On the issue of the high degree of similarity between programs at universities, Yen criticized such homogenization as undermining competitiveness.
Citing the example of higher education in the east of the country, Yen said that 90 percent of students in the region originated from western Taiwan and the courses offered were essentially the same as those found at schools in the west of the country.
That means that those schools contribute almost nothing to the region’s competitiveness, said Yen, a veteran of the local travel industry and president of the Landis Hotel and Resorts Group.
He urged the government to reevaluate national education policy and work toward helping each school identify its own distinctive values.