Major changes are in the works for two of the nation’s top universities, as the Ministry of Education draws up plans to combine a number of post-secondary institutions with the big universities.
Two of the nation’s most prestigious universities — National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei and National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu City — have been put on the ministry’s priority list, with six schools planned to be merged into three, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported yesterday.
On the drawing board are three proposals: merging National Taipei University of Education with NTU; merging National Hsinchu University of Education with National Tsing Hua University; and merging National Pingtung University of Education with National Pingtung Institute of Commerce.
The education reform plan was revealed during a legislative session to review the ministry’s budget.
Many of the nation’s universities are facing financial difficulties and decreasing enrollment because of a declining birth rate.
Grilled by legislators who threatened to freeze the ministry’s budget, Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ning (蔣偉寧) said a thorough review was under way and that the six schools had been targeted for mergers into three universities.
“Priority is being given to schools with fewer than 10,000 students, and for cities and municipalities with two or more national universities,” Chiang said.
Officials said proposals for the three cases had been discussed in the past, and they hoped to convene meetings among the six universities to coordinate the details for the merger plan to succeed.
There are 53 universities and vocational colleges in Taiwan, but a number of them have fewer than 10,000 students, which is the case for most normal universities and education colleges.
The three listed for potential mergers into the larger universities meet the criteria set by the ministry.
This was the first time the ministry has come up with a concrete plan on the issue, though there has been demand for such action for years.
Chiang said he hoped to implement the mergers before his term ends in 2014 and to give a timetable for discussing the details with the affected schools in February and March.