Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity (APIC) teachers and students yesterday rallied outside the Ministry of Education building in Taipei, demanding that the ministry take action to remove institute board members who are negligent and ensure that faculty receive overdue salaries.
The ministry in August 2016 allowed security service Yi-shen to take over the institution’s board in exchange for a donation of NT$480 million (US$16.4 million at the current exchange rate) to the institution, which it did not pay in full, Taiwan Higher Education Union organization department director Lin Po-yi (林柏儀) said.
For more than one year, the company has been using the institute’s resources to conduct its own business, such as turning the campus into an employee training center, completely disregarding the quality of education at the institute, he said.
The institute owes 36 of its faculty a combined total of more than NT$30 million, because it has been paying teachers less than one-third of the legal research allowance, Lin said.
Since the corporation took over the institute, student numbers have dropped from 3,000 to 800, with more than 700 students forced to transfer or drop out, an APIC teacher surnamed Huang (黃) said.
“It is hard to believe that the ministry cannot protect students’ right to education,” she said, adding that many students who have been forced to leave could not transfer their credits and had to invest additional time and money to graduate at another institute.
Teachers and students in April last year reported the institute’s failure to pay faculty their full salaries and its poor management to the ministry, Lin said.
They also held news conferences in October and November calling on the government to take action, but they were given no response, Lin added.
The ministry on Tuesday ordered the institute to pay salaries owed to faculty by Tuesday next week or face a fine, Ministry Department of Technological and Vocational Education official Eric Ker (柯今尉) said at the rally.
The ministry has also ordered Yi-shen to pay NT$100 million into the institute’s fund as previously agreed, and turn the institute’s assets over to a trust by the end of this month or face suspension, Ker said.
APIC teachers criticized the ministry’s proposal, saying that closure is exactly what the board wants.
“What the corporation is really after is the institute’s NT$1.6 billion asset, which they hope to get when the ministry shuts it down,” Lin said.
“What is happening to APIC today could happen to any private schools in the future,” Union of Private Educators president Yu Jung-hui (尤榮輝) said, adding that while the government is promoting a law governing the closure of private universities and colleges, its failure to resolve the APIC controversy would give private institutions little reason to trust its new policy.
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