Younger academics to be eligible for scholar progam

‘PRESTIGIOUS UNIVERSITIES’::A flexible salary system is to be increased to a maximum of NT$30,000 in a bid to help institutions better retain talented individuals

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

Sat, Nov 11, 2017 - Page 3

Younger academics are now eligible to apply for the Yushan Scholar program and schools are to be given greater leeway in deciding which applications to approve, the Ministry of Education said on Tuesday.

The program, which is scheduled to begin next year with annual funding of NT$1.5 billion (US$49.7 million), is aimed at providing more competitive wages to retain domestic and attract foreign talent.

It is to give academics NT$5 million on top of their base pay, capping out at a total of NT$6.5 million per year.

Younger academics — defined as individuals who apply for the program within a decade after receiving their highest degree — are eligible to apply for NT$1.5 million to NT$3 million on top of their base pay, the ministry said.

All talented youths working for renowned corporations, domestic and foreign, are eligible to apply for the program, it added.

Of the overall budget, 20 percent has been earmarked for top-ranking universities, which are to have full discretion on distribution of the funds, Deputy Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter (姚立德) said, adding that the remaining funds are to be made available to all schools nationwide.

The program is to be available to renowned international academics, regardless of whether they are in private or national universities, Yao said, adding that the ministry defines “foreign academics” as individuals who have a competitive edge, not just academics teaching at foreign universities or institutes.

Universities are to decide on the ratio of senior and younger academics who receive the funds, allowing for greater flexibility when selecting talent, he said.

One senior Yushan Scholar could be considered the equivalent of three younger academics, the deputy minister said.

The ministry’s talent retention plan is also to undergo changes, Yao said, adding that a flexible salary system is to be increased to more than NT$30,000.

About 70 percent of institutions in the “Prestigious Universities” program have capped flexible salaries at NT$20,000, accounting for only 5.9 percent of their funding, he said.

The cost of increasing the flexible salary cap is to be shared by universities and the ministry, he added.

To guarantee the rights of younger academics, universities would have to list the ratio of flexible salaries offered to associate professors and below for review, Yao said.

National Tsing Hua University dean Hocheng Hong (賀陳弘) voiced support for the ministry’s decision, saying that universities know best how to attract and retain talent and that they tend to attract younger academics.

However, Taiwan Higher Education Union secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) said that it would be more practical to instead increase the amount of full-time educators.