If private universities and science and technology institutions conduct mass layoffs of part-time teaching staff to save on personnel costs, encroaching on students’ right to learn, the Ministry of Education would follow the Private School Act (私立學校法) by cutting their subsidies and lowering their recruitment quotas, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said yesterday.
Pan made the remarks amid allegations that Asia University and Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology plan to lay off part-time lecturers by cutting the number of courses.
Pan said that as schools begin to discuss contracts for the September semester with their teaching staff next month, he would like to remind all private institutions that the ministry forbids them from cutting personnel costs by firing lecturers, as it runs counter to their mission to educate.
The ministry is working to amend regulations governing the employment of part-time lecturers, which will mandate schools pay their part-time teaching staff pensions, Pan said.
The ministry has budgeted NT$60 million (US$1.97 million) to cover pension payments to part-time lecturers planning to retire this year, he said.
“If schools neglect educational needs by limiting their options to sign up for classes or by laying off lecturers, the ministry will slash subsidies to the schools and cut their recruitment as per Article 55 of the Private School Act,” he said.
“If a school decides that they do not need so many lecturers, it means that it does not plan to recruit so many students either,” Pan said, adding that the ministry would fulfill its responsibility to monitor private institutions’ faculties.
In response to reporters queries about proposed pension cuts at public schools negatively affecting people’s willingness to apply for teaching jobs, posing a risk to the higher education system, Pan said that the Executive Yuan’s pension reform proposals includes a provision that allows people to “transfer” their seniority in the private sector to the public sector.
The new rule would benefit people who make the transition from the private to the public sector when their pensions are calculated, Pan said, adding that the new rule would likely motivate people to teach at public universities.
The ministry is also working to reform regulations governing the promotion of university faculty members, he said.
Faculty members’ teaching performance is to be assigned more weighting when schools decide whether they should be promoted, while academic performance would no longer be the dominating criteria, Pan said.
The rule change would also likely help increase people’s willingness to work at public institutions, he said.