The Ministry of Education yesterday reminded universities that members of examination committees for master’s degrees should be appointed based on academic professionalism and peer consensus.
The statement was issued after the Taiwan Statebuilding Party questioned the qualifications of examination committee members who had evaluated the master’s thesis of Kaohsiung City Councilor Lee Ya-ching (李雅靜) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s Kaohsiung chapter on Saturday wrote on Facebook that late KMT Kaohsiung City Council speaker Hsu Kun-yuan (許崑源) and former KMT legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) were members of the committee that examined Lee’s thesis at National Sun Yat-sen University’s Institute of Public Affairs Management.
Photo: Rachel Lin, Taipei Times
The ministry yesterday cited Article 8 of the Degree Conferral Act (學位授予法), which states that members of master’s degree examination committees must “have done specialized study in the research field of the student” and meet one of four qualifications.
These qualifications are being a current or former professor, associate professor or assistant professor; being an academician at Academia Sinica, or a current or former Academia Sinica research fellow, associate research fellow or assistant research fellow; having a doctoral degree and significant academic accomplishments; or having expertise in a rare or highly specialized research field or professional practice, and significant accomplishments academically or professionally.
The criteria for determining the third and fourth qualifications should be set at a department, graduate institute or college affairs meeting or at a degree program affairs meeting, the ministry said.
Committee members who meet the third or fourth qualification should be appointed carefully, with academic professionalism and peer consensus, to avoid harming the quality of higher education and university autonomy, it said.
Chang Po-yang (張博洋), deputy director of the Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s news department, yesterday said that Ho’s and Hsu’s educational backgrounds fell short of the act’s appointment criteria, and the university and Lee should provide an explanation.
Kaohsiung’s residents cannot accept local factions intervening in university autonomy and academic ethics, he said, calling on the ministry to investigate.
The university yesterday released its enforcement rules for master’s degree examinations, which include the same qualifications for examination committee members as the Degree Conferral Act.
Hsu and Ho should be considered to have fulfilled the fourth qualification, the university said, adding that it would offer details at a later time.
The incident concerning Lee is the latest controversy over the graduate thesis of an elected official after allegations of plagiarism against Kaohsiung City Councilor and KMT Kaohsiung mayoral by-election candidate Jane Lee (李眉蓁) first surfaced last week.
Amid mounting accusations that she had plagiarized her thesis, Jane Lee on Thursday said she would give up her master’s degree.
Additional reporting by Fang Chih-hsien and Huang Hsu-lei
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