Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Academic Talent: MOE plan aims to retain top academics

‘YUSHAN SCHOLARS’:The premier told the ministry to talk to critics of the plan and voiced doubts that a proposed subsidy would be enough to entice foreign academics

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Education’s Department of Higher Education Director Nicole Lee speaks to reporters in Taipei yesterday about the “Yushan Project” to retain top academic talent.

Photo: Lin Hsiao-yun, Taipei Times

A proposed subsidy program aimed at retaining top academics would provide special staffing funds to school and research facilities and give selected academics up to NT$5 million (US$164,968) per year for a three-year period, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said yesterday.

With the nation facing a severe brain drain and intense international competition for academics, the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) the “Yushan Project” would be aimed at keeping top Taiwanese and foreign academics working in Taiwan from leaving, Pan said after making a formal report on the plan at an Executive Yuan meeting.

There are three parts to the project, which the ministry plans to launch next year: the selection of 500 Taiwanese and 500 foreign “Yushan Scholars,” a staffing fund for schools and research facilities, and a 10 percent hike in the research pay of full-time professors, Pan said.

The academics would be chosen within three years of the start of the project, and each would hold the title of Yushan Scholar for a three-year period, during which time they would be entitled to a bonus — based on their annual salary and rank — of up to NT$5 million per year, Pan said.

A special NT$2 billion annual fund for payrolls would be provided to schools and research facilities to pay additional bonuses to current employees and hire young applicants, he said, adding that the program, which would benefit about 19,000 academics, is projected to cost NT$5.6 billion per year to implement.

The ministry is set to hold four panels, including one yesterday, to discuss the proposal.

Critics have said the project concentrates limited resources on a select few and creates an imbalance between established academics and younger ones.

Responding to the criticism, Pan said: “The project will select both established scholars and young and upcoming academics, without focusing on a particular age group.”

“It will address the needs of different academic disciplines without overemphasizing the scientific ones,” he added.

“Performance will be the top priority in the selection of Yushan scholars, so academics, whether from China or other countries, enrolled in the project will have to produce academic results,” he said.

However, even Premier Lin Chuan (林全) appears to be among those who have doubts about the proposal.

Saying the three-year limit on the additional funding for “Yushan Scholars” might not be a stable enough incentive for international academics, he urged the ministry to boost complementary measures.

He also encouraged the ministry to communicate with critics of the project about the selection criteria and ordered it to revise the university salary system as a way to help retain academic talents and bolster the nation’s competitiveness.

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