The Ministry of Education yesterday outlined plans to merge universities, as the number of students has been on the decline.
“Low fertility rates are an unavoidable reality,” Deputy Minister of Education Chen Der-hwa (陳德華) said.
The ministry estimates that student numbers will drop by a third by 2023 after years of low birth rates, putting tremendous pressure on universities and colleges as revenue drops.
Chen said the ministry would seek to cope with this reality by making “more effective” use of educational resources, while protecting the interests of teachers and students in the schools affected.
The ministry plans announced yesterday call for cutting college enrollment quotas by 40 percent by 2023, while encouraging school mergers.
If a university fails to fill 70 percent of its enrollment quota for two consecutive years, the quota will be automatically cut, Chen said.
Subsidies would be offered to give schools an incentive to cut their enrollment quotas, he said.
By encouraging public universities to voluntarily cut their enrollment, the ministry hopes to mitigate the pressure placed on less prestigious schools.
The ministry estimates that eight to 12 of the 51 public universities in the nation and 20 to 40 of the 101 private universities will be merged or closed by 2023.
While the ministry wants to encourage mergers of public universities, it would allow private closures to follow a natural course, only forcing closures in cases in which the universities are unable to meet ministry educational standards, Chen said.
As private schools generally have lower enrollment rates than public schools, they are expected to be hit the hardest by falling student numbers.
The ministry said that merging grade levels to be able to hold classes would be viewed as grounds for closure.
Southern universities are to bear a larger share of university closings, since they generally have lower enrollment rates, but the ministry would guarantee that there would be at least one public university in every county and municipality, Chen said.
Previously announced mergers include three technology universities in Kaohsiung, along with National Taiwan University and National Taipei University of Education.
The ministry also announced the establishment of an office to coordinate policy implementation.
The ministry said it would propose new legislation to the legislature this year in the hopes of providing a clear legal foundation for the transition.
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