Fri, Jun 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Row erupts over unpaid internships in ASEAN

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Students have complained that internship programs with Taiwanese businesses in ASEAN states are exploiting them, attracting criticism from academics and corporate managers.

Students applying for projects that were negotiated by universities or the Ministry of Education’s pilot overseas project for internships at Taiwanese corporations in ASEAN countries have complained about being treated like cheap labor for experience in vocations they are unlikely to pursue in the future.

Students said they had to pay for their own plane tickets and other fees, which might cost more than NT$40,000 or NT$50,000.

Managers said the projects were intended to provide learning opportunities and not career options, and students should not hold such high expectations.

Students applying for the projects come to learn and broaden their experience, not to play, the companies said, adding that they are offering the projects for students’ benefit and not for the company’s.

Businesses said they already provide room and board to students on the program.

Whether to pay interns should be decided according to their job performance and how much they were helping companies, businesses said.

Businesses often demurred because they feared facing heavier burdens, they said.

However, Fo Guang University has been offering corporations a more flexible program, Chen Shang-mao (陳尚懋) of the public affairs department said.

The university makes it clear to corporations and students that room and board pay for the internship, Chen said.

The university also offers some subsidies to cooperating businesses, he said.

The internship program teaches students to adapt to working life while giving them an opportunity to experience life abroad, Chen said.

Internships should be seen as a learning experience, not only for career purposes, but also in terms of language and culture, Chen said.

Students should not complain about how much they are giving to the program, he said.

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