A group of undergraduate and graduate students yesterday called for transparency in the budgeting and spending of the school affairs fund at tertiary institutions, saying that funds are being used as university presidents’ “personal coffers.”
The fund, comprised of government funding and tuition fees, is being used by university presidents and reviewed by auditors they directly supervise, with no checks or balances, National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association chairman Wan Yu-chun (王昱鈞) told a news conference in Taipei.
Students at some universities have in the past few years called for new dormitories be built or traffic on the campus be improved, but the universities have repeatedly rejected the calls, saying they did not have enough money, Wan said.
“The opaque use of these funds raises the question of whether it has been misappropriated,” he said, citing a report about the National Taiwan University of Business’s alleged misuse of its fund, which Wan said shows that the mechanism is problematic.
He called on lawmakers to amend the National University School Affairs Fund Establishment Act (國立大學校院校務基金設置條例) to require that the budgeting and spending of such funds be reviewed by a panel comprised of members from all branches that take part in school affairs meetings, saying that without such a mechanism, the fund is susceptible to misuse.
Taiwan’s 49 national universities have about NT$113 billion (US$3.7 billion) at their disposal annually, National Taiwanese University College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science professor Wu Ruey-beei (吳瑞北) said.
However, an amendment to the act in 2015 changed the way in which school affairs fund auditors are staffed, allowing them to be directly appointed by university presidents, Wu said.
This made the presidents both the users and auditors of their funds, which hurts the rights of the faculty and students alike, he said.
Following the example of National Taiwan University (NTU) president Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), many NTU faculty have used the phrase “university autonomy” when trying to justify the way in which its fund is used, but university autonomy does not equate to a university president having autonomy in spending the school affairs fund, NTU Students Association member Hsieh Pei-ling (謝佩玲) said.
Some NTU professors and officials have deliberately misled the media by downplaying the issue of university presidents having been given the power to appoint auditors for their funds, she said.
Alliance Against Commercializing Education member Lai Pei-lien (賴沛蓮) said that the funds were introduced to give universities leeway in limiting their expenses amid shortfalls in the central government’s budget for higher education.
However, this “capitalist mindset” has hurt the rights of lecturers and students at less popular departments, such as anthropology and mathematics, as they have not received funding, despite having made academic achievements, Lai said, calling for measures to be introduced so that each schools’ fund can undergo proper scrutiny.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
NEW CASE REPORTED: A man who returned from South Africa on a flight with the nation’s 460th and 461st cases has now tested positive for the disease The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that there is no need to test all arrivals to the nation for COVID-19, a policy the Executive Yuan supports. The center reported one new imported case, bringing the nation’s tally of confirmed cases to 477. The new case is a Taiwanese man in his 60s who on July 25 returned from South Africa, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is also the CECC’s spokesman. The man had returned to Taiwan on the same flight as cases Nos. 460 and 461, reported on July 27, Chuang said. On July 24,
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan