Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Taoyuan school’s land sale plan could backfire

INAPPROPRIATE:Although making a profit, the Nanya Institute of Technology contends that it still needs the land sale revenue, even if forfeiting land compliance

By Lee Jung-ping, Rachel Lin, Wu Po-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

The Nanya Institute of Technology has proposed selling a part of its land in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢) in exchange for cheaper land so that it could use the proceeds to pay faculty members who are retiring early, according to materials obtained from a meeting at the end of last year.

The school had 8,000 students at its peak, but enrollment since then has dropped to about 3,000.

Currently owning 50,032.9m2 of land, the school aims to sell two plots, or 222.8m2, the meeting materials showed.

A real-estate agency estimated that the two plots are worth at least NT$13 million (US$443,807).

However, if the school sells the land, it would fail to meet a requirement that colleges have at least five hectares of land.

It plans to first purchase other areas of land that are less expensive to meet the requirement, school president Chien Jen-te (簡仁德) said, adding that it hopes to rebalance its finances with the difference.

Apart from paying faculty members who are retiring early, the school hopes to purchase new equipment, Chien said.

The school board said the school made a profit last year and that its finances remain stable.

Meanwhile, some people within the school community have expressed concern that the proposed land sale is related to speculation over nearby land.

One faculty member said the school claimed to be in poor financial shape, but has not given year-end bonuses in five years and does not pay its employees for overtime.

In the past two years, more than 100 faculty members have left the school, they said, adding the school is short on staff and some departments have asked professors to also act as assistants.

“If the school makes a profit, would it need to sell land?” they asked.

The Ministry of Education’s Department of Technological and Vocational Education Director Yang Yu-hui (楊玉惠) said that according to the Private School Act (私立學校法), private schools must ask the ministry to review any land sale proposals.

Schools can only sell unused land if they meet the precondition of having 5 hectares, she said. “If Nanya Institute of Technology fails to meet the land requirement, it could risk being demoted to a junior college.”

Moreover, private schools are not commercial institutions, Yang said.

It is inappropriate to use a “buy low, sell high” business model or to exchange the school’s property for cash, she said, adding that the ministry plans to review the case.

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