Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Low school wages fueling brain drain

NON-COMPETITIVE:A legislative bureau suggested that fines be imposed on struggling schools that fail to reform or exit the market to facilitate distribution of resources

By Chiu Yan-ling and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Low salaries at universities are fueling a brain drain and undermining the nation’s competitiveness, a report by the Legislative Yuan’s Organic Laws and Statutes Bureau said.

The situation is difficult to resolve as the number of universities outweigh demand, leaving schools competing for limited resources, the bureau said in the report published on Friday last week.

A low birth rate has exacerbated the problem, it said.

Universities should be categorized, and non-competitive ones with low enrollment should exit the market to balance out resources, the bureau said.

Salaries, which are uniform across the nation, should be more flexible, allowing for raises when appropriate to help schools attract talented professors, it said.

The current salary structure, which caps a professor’s monthly salary at NT$116,825 (US$3,855), makes it difficult for Taiwanese schools to compete with those in other countries, the bureau said.

A new professor in an economics department at a US university on average earns between US$130,000 and US$150,000 annually, or as high as US$200,000, it said.

Schools in China pay professors the equivalent of NT$2.34 million annually on the high end, or NT$194,721 per month, it said.

Chinese universities also pay for professors’ accommodations, it said.

Starting salaries for professors in Hong Kong and Singapore are three times those of Taiwan at US$200,000 annually, the bureau said.

The Executive Yuan had drafted a bill to help struggling private universities and colleges reform or withdraw from the market, but many failed to act on plans to pull out, despite promises to do so, the bureau said.

Penalties should be imposed on those that failed to take action, it said.

The Ministry of Education has been offering subsidies to research institutions through the “Yushan Project” and other programs aimed at acquiring and retaining talented researchers and academics, but these measures have proven inadequate in stopping a brain drain, the bureau said.

The ministry should follow California’s method of categorizing institutions based on whether their focus is on research or teaching, it said.

This would help in the allocation of limited funds and facilitate salaries and raises, it said.

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