Fri, Aug 11, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Academic Talent: Teachers’ federation urges shelving ‘Yushan Project’

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

An educational incentive plan, dubbed the “Yushan Project,” which envisions raising the salaries of the nation’s top academics, should be put on hold until a review of existing subsidies and benefits is concluded, the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions said yesterday.

“If we are just adding the Yushan Project on top of other incentives, it should really be called the Himalayan project,” union president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said, citing wide-ranging academic subsidy programs offered by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Yushan (玉山) is the nation’s highest peak.

“What we have been seeing is a situation in which the only problem in Taiwan’s higher education is money, and schools keep sucking in new funds, while the Ministry of Education has yet to propose solutions for the deeper problem of how to shutter schools as student numbers decline,” Chang said.

The project should be halted until the Ministry of Education provides an account of how different subsidies are distributed, including publicizing the full, itemized incomes of all university instructors.

The project calls for a 10 percent wage hike for academic researchers, but has drawn criticism over the proposed annual selection of “Yushan Scholars,” who would be eligible for a bonus of up to NT$5 million (US$164,968) per year for three years.

The average annual income of a full-time professor is about NT$1.5 million, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said last week.

There is a risk that the bonuses would end up in the hands of faculty who already receive lavish compensation from existing subsidies, Chang said.

“The Ministry of Education keeps feeding higher education the snake oil of additional subsidies again and again, but we do not see any clear direction for addressing deeper problems,” he said.

“The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology should provide an integrated account of their rewards and subsidies for instructors so that we can see what the effects have been,” he said.

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