Mon, Mar 04, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ministry to suspend courses at watchlisted institutions

By Rachel Lin and Yang Chin-cheng  /  Staff reporters

The Ministry of Education on Friday said it would suspend continuing education courses at some higher-education institutions on its watchlist from the new semester, which begins in August.

Eight institutions failed to achieve an enrollment rate of at least 60 percent for the previous academic year — from August 2017 to June last year — with Fortune Institute of Technology, Huafan University, and Nan Jeon University of Science and Technology having fewer than 3,000 students, ministry statistics showed.

The eight institutions are Huafan in New Taipei City, Hsuan Chuang University in Hsinchu County, Mingdao University and Chung Chou University of Science and Technology in Changhua County, Kao Yuan University and Fortune in Kaohsiung, Nan Jeon in Tainan and Chungyu University of Film and Arts in Keelung.

Amendments to the Guidelines on Continued Education Offered by Higher Education Institutions (專科以上學校辦理繼續教育辦法) say that such institutions are to be barred from offering continuing education courses unless their enrollment improves.

Other reasons that would lead to restrictions from offering the courses include severe debt, serious financial difficulty, three months of unpaid employees’ salaries, unwarranted salary reductions, employment of unapproved staff, failing a ministry evaluation or being placed on the watchlist.

Department of Technological and Vocational Education Director Yang Yu-hui (楊玉惠) said that institutes that are found to provide poor education would not be allowed to offer continuing education courses and the ministry filed an injunction banning them from doing so.

The watchlist would be published after the Legislative Yuan passes a private school transformation and closure bill, Yang said.

Meanwhile, National Sun Yat-sen University president Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) has proposed a merger with Kaohsiung Medical University, a private institution.

If successful, it would be the nation’s first merger between a public university and a private one.

Commenting on legal technicalities facing such a merger — which would be classified as a “private foundation” — Cheng called on the ministry to relax regulations, saying that integrating their resources would leverage the research capacity of higher education, creating in a win-win situation for the institutions and the nation.

However, Kaohsiung Medical said the proposed merger needs careful deliberation, while existing collaborative programs between the two have greatly leveraged education quality for both.

The ministry has expressed support for public-private mergers, but proposals by Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) that the private institution turn over half the seats on its board of directors to its public counterpart and that the entity be a foundation are considered difficult to realize.

A possible solution would be to have separate management for education and business affairs in such a merger.

Association of Private Universities and Colleges of Technology, Taiwan director-general Tang Yan-po (唐彥伯) said the government is unlikely to certify faculty members at private institutions as public teachers, as that would increase government spending.

If a public-private merger happens, faculty from private institutions would probably still be covered by their existing pensions, which would pose the problem of “one school, two systems,” Tang said.

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