University of Kang Ning (UKN) is set to become the nation’s first university to be downgraded to a vocational college, it said on Tuesday, citing low enrollment rates at its Tainan campus.
The university was founded in 2015 after a merger between Kang Ning Vocational College and Lide University, which became UKN’s Taipei and Tainan campuses respectively.
While the Taipei campus offers mostly vocational programs, the Tainan campus offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Transforming the university into a vocational college could mean closing down the Tainan campus.
In the last academic year, the university had 4,968 students, 162 full-time lecturers, and 89 part-time lecturers and administrative staff, Ministry of Education data show.
The Tainan campus had 1,041 students and 35 lecturers.
The downgrade would take place this academic year, affecting 500 to 600 students, UKN secretary Yen Hang-tsung (閻亢宗) said.
While the Taipei campus has an enrollment rate of nearly 90 percent, the Tainan campus’ rate has been below optimum, he said.
The university board has decided to end the undergraduate and postgraduate programs so that the institute can focus on its strengths, Yen said.
A transformation proposal would be submitted to the ministry after being approved by the university council, he said, adding that the university would explain the change to its students in a briefing.
The ministry would consider the university’s development, its plans for taking care of faculty members and students following the transformation and the nation’s higher education when reviewing the proposal from UKN, Department of Higher Education Director-General Chu Chun-chang (朱俊彰) said.
Following the downgrade, the university’s students would include junior and senior-high school students, he said.
The announcement did not come as a surprise, as the university has long refused to fill open positions, an instructor at the university said.
However, students were caught off guard.
They did not know anything about the downgrade plan until it was reported by the local media, a postgraduate student said.
“How is that respectful to the students?” he said.
The two universities were merged to make them sustainable and the ministry would be contradicting its previous stance if it approved the proposal, he said, adding that the university should not be downgraded until all current students have graduated.
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