Ministry to probe suspect hiring of university staff

COST-CUTTING::The Ministry of Education said it would look into concerns raised by the Control Yuan and a union that schools were hiring too many part-time staff

By Rachel Lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Tue, Jan 01, 2013 - Page 3

In response to recent requests made by the Taiwan Higher Education Union and the Control Yuan, the Ministry of Education said it would look into whether universities are exploiting regulatory loopholes to reduce their human resource expenses by not employing professors on a full-time basis.

Taiwan Higher Education Union director-general Tai Po-fen (戴伯芬) said some universities were seeking to scale back their human resource expenditures by hiring several part-time professors instead of employing one full time.

College professors earn NT$765 per hour teaching daytime classes, meaning that an assistant professor teaching 10 hours a month for nine months per year would earn just under NT$23,000 in a year, Tai said.

There were 27,111 professors teaching at universities on a hourly wage basis in 2001, but the number shot up by 63 percent to 44,215 in 2011, Tai said, adding that private schools had experienced a particularly high increase, with part-time staff jumping from 17,510 in 2001 to 29,139 in 2011.

However, the union said that the increase of college students from 520,000 to 680,000 shows that the need for teachers has grown correspondingly.

“We feel that the universities are purposefully hiring more part-time teachers instead of employing full-time professors by saying that there are increasingly fewer children being born,” Tai said.

Tai added that the union felt that this was the main reason why young professors that had just received their doctorates had found it diffuclt or impossible to find full-time work at schools for the past decade.

The union petitioned the Control Yuan to look into the matter, and Control Yuan member Ko Yung-kuang (葛永光) asked the ministry to determine whether universities are purposefully taking advantage of loopholes in hiring regulations to employ part-time teachers in place of full-time staff.

In response, Deputy Minister of Education Chen De-hua (陳德華) said that while it was normal for universities to hire part-time teachers, the number of part-time employees in any given school should fall within a reasonable limit.

A nationwide poll conducted by the ministry in May last year showed that there were 44,889 teachers working part-time, of which 16,771 had a stable job.

However, 8,118 people were discovered to be soely part-time teachers and had no other jobs, the poll showed, adding that most of these part-time teachers were under the age of 55.

The ministry passed a new regulation last year stipulating that while four part-time teachers may be considered a replacement for one full-time professor, a school’s total part-time staff may not exceed one-third of the total number of full-time staff, Chen said.

“We will take a very close look into the matter and if we decide that some universities have infringed upon the rights of teachers and students, the ministry will seek to remedy the situation and look for ways to prevent reoccurrences,” Chen said.