Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Measures target quality of doctorates, lower quantity

ACADEMIC OVERSUPPLY:The Ministry of Education aims to trim doctoral enrollments by 30%, while also offering scholarships to improve the quality of those who remain

By Wu Po-hsuan and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of Education has announced a new project aimed at slashing doctoral admissions by as much as 30 percent and establishing three new doctoral programs in the next academic year to curb the oversupply of such degrees and boost career opportunities for graduates.

There are more than 30,000 people with doctorates in Taiwan and more than 4,000 graduate each year, with just about 20 percent able to find careers in academia or the private sector.

In a ministerial meeting on Thursday, Department of Higher Education Director-General Huang Wen-ling (黃雯玲) said the ministry plans to implement a youth academics fostering program to reduce admissions of doctoral students and develop a generation of elite academics and practice-based doctorates.

Of the 6,200 students in doctoral programs this year, just 70 percent are to be retained next year, with another 15 percent left at schools’ discretion, she said.

The ministry would withhold the remaining 15 percent, who might be granted to schools upon request, she said.

The measure aims to diminish enrollment by as much as 30 percent, or 1,860 students, she said.

The ministry’s program also aims to improve the quality of such students with three subprograms: an industry-academia partnership project, an elite academics project and a practice-based project, she said.

The industry-academia partnership aims to integrate students with the private sector through a five-year combined master’s and doctorate program, with each student granted a NT$1 million (US$32,024) scholarship, she said.

The elite academics project is to award full scholarships and a joint degree at a foreign university to doctoral candidates, who must study abroad for two years to increase their international qualifications, she said, adding that the ministry plans to invest about NT$4.29 million in those students.

The admission quota for each of those projects is fixed at 500 students, she said.

The practice-based doctoral program aims to segregate academic theories and actual practice, in hopes of encouraging people with a regular job to pursue higher education, she said.

The ministry also plans to introduce a support system for young academics and to reform the academic pay system and rules for faculty promotion to retain talented people, she said.

The ministry’s restructuring measure is expected to take the largest toll on science and engineering disciplines because of their larger number of admissions, she said.

National Taiwan University dean of academic affairs Juang Rong-huay (莊榮輝) said doctoral enrollments in electronic engineering and biomedical engineering have been decreasing over the years.

The school is set to reduce doctoral admissions in science-related disciplines by 30 percent, while cutting those in the humanities by 15 percent, which means a reduction of 150 students next year, he said.

National Chiao Tung University dean of academic affairs Chen Sin-horng (陳信宏) said that the school is set to reduce its general admission number for doctoral students by 30 percent, but the quota for popular doctoral studies including computer science, life science and electronic engineering would be slimmed down by 20 percent.

An estimated 10,000 academic openings in humanities are expected be available by 2023, when a large number of academics are expected to retire, which means that it is a good time to sign up for a doctorate program, he said.

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