Thu, Mar 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

MOE mulls student-intern rules

LOW VALUE:The internships offered by the private sector are often basic, low-paying jobs that do not allow students to apply the skills they have learned, Yao Leeh-ter said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is deliberating legislation to regulate private sector internship programs for university students, to help them better apply their expertise in the workplace, Deputy Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德) said yesterday.

Yao, former president of the National Taipei University of Technology (NTUT), assumed office earlier this month, filling the vacancy left by Chen Liang-gee (陳良基), who now heads the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Yao answered questions about how to improve vocational education, vowing to maintain budget increases for vocational schools.

Comparing National Taipei University of Technology with National Taiwan University, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said that the two institutes are at the top of their respective fields, but the funds allocated by the ministry for the technology university are NT$5.2 billion (US$171.7 million) less than for National Taiwan University.

There is a huge discrepancy between the funding allocated to comprehensive and vocational universities, with comprehensive universities receiving about 70 percent of ministry subsidies, Ko said.

Internship programs offered by the private sector to students are confined to basic, low-paying jobs such as catering and babysitting, jobs that often prevent students from applying what they have learned, she said.

Quoting Yao, who during his term as NTUT said in an interview with CommonWealth Magazine that he hoped the ministry would increase state funding by 1 percent and use the extra money to improve vocational education, and that he takes pride in NTUT’s ability to formulate practical internship programs, Ko asked Yao whether his stance on vocational education is unchanged.

Equalizing the budgets granted to comprehensive and vocational universities is the ministry’s unwavering stance, Yao said, adding that it hopes to steadily increase the funds allocated to vocational institutions every year.

The ministry is assessing the viability of forming an act to improve the quality of internship programs proposed by private companies to improve students’ chances to use their skills, he said.

Ko asked Yao to brief her on what the ministry is doing to help private universities with low enrollment rates reinvent themselves, merge with other institutes or close down amid a low birthrate.

Yao said that the ministry would submit a draft proposal on rules governing transition or closure of private universities to the Executive Yuan next month for approval before sending it to the legislature.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) panned an amendment to the Junior College Act (專科學校法), which stipulates that science and technology universities that were once junior colleges, but have poor enrollment numbers, evaluation scores, administration or financial difficulties revert to junior colleges.

The conditions listed in the act are negative qualities and would not help increase students’ willingness to enroll in these institutes even if they were reinvented as junior colleges status, he said.

Citing data compiled by the ministry, Chang Liao said that three universities could be demoted to junior colleges.

Yao said that the ministry would request high-performing science and technology universities be merged with beleaguered universities after they are repurposed as junior colleges, thereby ensuring that students receive a good education.

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