The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday called for freezing the planned hike in application fees for the joint entrance examination to technological and vocational schools.
Citing a budget shortfall caused by the nation’s low birth rate, the Ministry of Education planned to raise application fees for the examination — which 155,000 students took last year — from between NT$900 and NT$1,050 (US$31 and US$36) to between NT$1,050 and NT$1,610, a increase of between 16 percent and 78 percent.
The application fees for the joint examination to four-year universities would be raised by NT$100.
DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) described the plan as “government robbery,” saying that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration always promote policies that benefit large corporations and the wealthy.
Ma has pledged to revive technological and vocational education (TVE) in the past, Pan said, but has not been practicing what he preached. The averaged annual subsidy for a university student was NT$230,000 while a TVE student only received NT$136,000, Pan said.
The increase [in application fees] might not be much, but it would add to the financial burden on TVE students, most of whom come from financially challenged families, Pan added.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said the party would oppose any measure to increase education-related fees and the financial burden on the poor.
Government agencies have been inconsistent in their positions on education, DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) said, pointing out that the Ministry of Education would spend NT$20 billion on 12-year compulsory education programs, yet the Executive Yuan is opposed to the ministry’s three-year, NT$20 billion project to rebuild TVE.
The proposed hike in exam fees would only increase the Ministry’s budget by NT$2.8 million, Hsu added.