Competitiveness is key to Taiwan’s future development as the national birthrate keeps dropping, an academic said yesterday, warning of a competitiveness gap between Taiwanese and Chinese university students, indicated by their attitudes toward class attendance.
Hsueh Cherng-tay (薛承泰), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Department of Sociology, made the remarks at a forum in Taipei, where he said the gap as “more frightening than [China] having 1,000 missiles targeting Taiwan.”
Hsueh, a former minister without portfolio, said Chinese students tend to have a more active attitude toward learning than their Taiwanese peers, which is reflected by their high attendance rates in morning classes, which many Taiwanese tend to skip.
Hsueh offered no statistical evidence to support his views.
Being competitive is key to the country’s future, especially due to the low birthrate, he said.
The government needs to respond to the consequences of having a low birthrate and an aging society, while educational institutions should consider how to improve students’ competitiveness as society changes, Hsueh said.
In 2016, the number of freshmen in universities and colleges will decrease by 50,000, or 15 percent, from current figures, he said, adding that according to his estimates, the figure may drop by 35 percent in 2026.
Also at the forum, Hwang Kwang-kuo (黃光國), a professor at the university’s Department of Psychology, said that local academics should pay greater attention to the quality of their academic papers, instead of on how many they get published.