Students and organizations representing their parents protested the Ministry of Education’s decision on Friday to approve increases in tuition fees for nine of the nation’s universities, saying that the changes would accentuate the problems of poor families.
A total of 23 universities applied to increase tuition fees, with the requests reviewed by a panel of academics, parents, students, teachers and businesspeople.
The changes would see the nine universities raise their fees by between 1.89 percent and 2.5 percent, the equivalent of NT$550 to NT$1,300 per semester.
The applications of three national universities and six private universities were approved by the panel.
Da Yeh University, Shih Chien University and the Taoyuan Innovation Institute of Technology were given the green light to increase fees by 1.89 percent.
Jinwen University of Technology and Science’s request to raise fees by 2.49 percent was also approved, while National Ilan University, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, National Taipei University of Technology, Chung Hwa University and Cheng Shiu University were granted the rights to raise their fees by 2.5 percent.
Department of Higher Education Director-General Huang Wen-ling (黃雯玲) said the state of universities’ finances, its attitude toward making information transparent and having clearly defined goals were the key factors in the assessment process.
The 14 universities that had their applications denied either did not have clearly defined intentions for the increase in revenue or had already raised their fees last year, Huang said.
National Taiwan University of Science and Technology Secretary-General Huang Ching-dong (黃慶東) said that the 2.5 percent raise to its tuition would allow the university to increase its yearly income by NT$6.3 million (US$202,400), of which half would be used to help disadvantaged students, with the rest going on salaries, insurance for interns and other expenditures.
Shih Chien University dean Chen Chen-kuei (陳振貴) also said that an NT$25 million increase in annual income from tuition fees would be used to help disadvantaged students and scholarship subsidies.
However, the Taiwan Higher Education Union’s Kao Shih-wen (高詩雯) criticized the ministry’s decision.
Hiking tuition fees would not guarantee a corresponding leap in the quality of education offered, but would cause schools that are already lagging to fall further behind, Kao said.
Kao said the ministry’s decision would encourage universities to raise their tuition fees so that the ministry could cut back on its provision of educational resources and lower its expenditures, adding that such trends would not benefit the educational industry at all.
The Alliance Against the Commoditization of Education said that the MOE’s decision ignored the distribution of funding in secondary education and was instead leaving the students and their families to deal with the aftermath.
National Alliance of Parents Organizations director-general Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) said that as children from poorer families often attend private universities, the ministry should take the opportunity to freeze all tuition fees and take a clear inventory of the nation’s secondary education resources, instead of allowing private schools with poor structures to continue to operate.
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