Promoting the Popularity of Higher Education
To motivate the core engine of national modernization, the major mission of higher education is to conduct research on profound academic areas and cultivate future professionals. After the government moved to Taiwan in 1949, there were only 1 university and 3 colleges, with around 5,000 students in total. This led to a policy focused on the comprehensive development of private schools, and the requirement for social and economic development led to an increased number of established colleges and universities each year. By 2018, the total number of colleges and universities was 154, (not including religious research colleges, military or police colleges or academies, or open universities), with more than 1,300,000 students in total. The number of teachers and the student-teacher ratio have progressed in a positive way. There has also been an increase in the number of doctoral teachers and teachers who have been promoted to a higher level.
The population change of our nation, and the efficient use of educational resources, has resulted in resource integration being undertaken in many universities. Through the revision of Article 7 of the University Act, the Ministry of Education was designated with power to guide the combination of national universities. The Promotion Regulations of University Merger was established, which regulates the conditions of how universities are merged, the administrative procedures and subsidizations involved, and other related affairs, as a legislative precedent for promoting university mergers in the future. The Governing Regulation of University Merger was established and announced, to undertake issues of the merger between 2 national universities or 2 private universities. Article 71 of the Private School Law was revised in order to establish the transitional withdrawal mechanism, promote the motivations, and enable the flexible operation of the transitional development for private schools. To enhance the competitiveness of private schools which implement their operations, the Governing Regulations for MOE Review of Private School Applications for Establishing Attached Institutes related to Teaching Educational Practice, Experimental Research, and Implementation of Other Related Issues were established and announced.
The Completion of Colleges and Universities Transition and Withdrawal Mechanism
To complete the colleges and universities transition and withdrawal mechanism, the Ministry of Education has been planning to organize the Colleges and Universities Transition and Withdrawal Mechanism Act (Draft) to encourage schools to adjust current operational models and develop their special features in their operations by efficiently using existing resources. The Ministry of Education also strengthened the supervision system for schools whose performance was not up to standards, in order to both actively maintain rights of students, teachers, and education staffs, and to assure the publicness of school property. In addition, the Ministry of Education established the Colleges and Universities Transition and Withdrawal Mechanism Fund, to assist with required fees to help students transfer to other schools by providing a type of subsidization. These funds also assisted schools by providing the required funds to transition via the withdrawal mechanism and by financing schools that were unable to immediately finance such operations.
Pursuing Outstanding Development of Teaching and Research Quality
To enhance academic research quality, the Promotion of University Academic Research Excellence Program and the University General Education Enhancement Project, were in continuous operation throughout the year 2000. The Development Plan for World Class Universities and Research Centers for Excellence was promoted in 2005 (the 2nd session of this plan was renamed as the Aim for Top University Project). By setting up a competitive academic environment, world class universities may be developed and research centers that align with international standards in qualified fields may be established. To rectify the inclination of emphasizing research rather than teaching, the Promotion of University Teaching Excellence Program and its sub-project, Regional Encouragement of College and University Integration and Sharing Resources Project was promoted: to integrate teaching resources, to establish a shared platform, to build a quality teaching environment, to fortify students competitiveness in future workplaces, to cultivate the required advanced talents, and to accomplish the expectation of a knowledge-based economic society in the new era.
The Pilot Innovation Teaching Program was promoted in 2017, and then was transitioned and promoted as the Higher Education Sprout Project in 2018 (project operation period 2018-2022). The project was implemented to assist universities to develop multiple features and to cultivate talented students in the new era. This project includes two major parts. The first is to “comprehensively enhance quality universities and to promote the diverse development of higher education”, and the goals are student-oriented and include: teaching as a core concept, undertaking the enhancement of teaching innovation and teaching quality, developing school features, upgrading the publicness of higher education, and fulfilling the social responsibility. The second part is “to assist universities to pursue a world class position and develop research centers”, to achieve the purpose of strengthening the guidance for each school to develop their special features according to their unique fields.
Furthermore, since the implementation of college and university evaluations in 1975, the Ministry of Education has gradually combined the evaluation of discipline and school affairs. In December 2005, the Ministry of Education and 153 universities and colleges created a fund to establish the Higher Education Evaluation & Accreditation Council of Taiwan (abbreviated as HEEACT), which is responsible for undertaking the evaluation of colleges and universities research, planning, operation, and exam standards, and set the milestone for the development of a higher education quality control system. To develop and establish university autonomy, the Ministry of Education, in accordance with the Executive Yuan, promoted the simplification of evaluation measures, and department evaluations were no longer consigned to the HEEACT. Department evaluations were thus returned and managed by each school. The school evaluation was simplified and was carried out to comprehensively ensure student learning outcomes, quality teaching, and public information regarding school operations.
Taking the publicness of university education into consideration, universities are required to demonstrate the social responsibility of higher education in cultivating talent, so as to ensure the quality of higher education. Regarding school evaluations, the indicators and related measures of the Second Cycle of School Evaluations (2017-2018) has been simplified. The direction of the next cycle of School Evaluations (2024) will be planned based on student learning outcomes, teaching quality, and public information. How each university manages its departments can be understood through various evaluation indicators, procedural plans for visiting schools, and by arranging evaluation representatives. The regulated mandated authorized power of department evaluations were changed into autonomous decision by schools, and the quality control process was returned to each school to manage according to their own professional and autonomous development. Further, the Ministry of Education provides schools with a certain amount of subsidization, to assist schools in devoting themselves to improving all quality control measures for each department.
The Promotion of the Young Scholar Fellowship Program
The quality of talents with doctoral degrees has a direct relation to national competitiveness. To encourage young students to obtain doctoral degrees, the Ministry of Education proposed the Young Scholar Fellowship Program in 2014. In regard to developing practical research and advancing academic development, this program contains 2 sub-projects. Regarding the preferences of young doctoral students, these projects offer different types of support. Schools are also directed to propose related accountability measures and to be responsible for all student learning, quality control, and guidance from school enrollment to graduation to enhance the quality of doctoral talent of our nation, including the Industry-University Cooperative Project to Cultivating Doctoral Talents, the International Cooperative Talent Cultivation Project, and the Regulation of Student Numbers Measure.
The Construction of the International Education Environment
To promote cross-strait academic exchanges, and enhance the academic achievements of Chinese, related regulations and supporting measures have been continuously announced since September 2010. Higher education diplomas from Mainland China areas are acknowledged. The recruitment for students from Mainland China areas to obtain a degree has been carried out since the academic year 100. The gradual opening of Chinese students’ ability to come to Taiwan to study and carry out research has been in development. This process is continuously evaluated in order to review and revise the strategies of cross-strait academic exchanges. Also, universities and colleges are encouraged to recruit talents from all over the world, to establish courses fully delivered in English, and to strengthen the bilateral exchanges between campuses through the flexible salary program and other various competitive subsidization projects. To raise the competitiveness of higher education of our nation and to compete with the international world, the following measures related to education innovation have been actively promoted since 2013: assist universities to break through the current limitations and frameworks, undertake innovative autonomous management models, introduce quality education resources and foresight concepts from foreign universities, and offer a world-class teachers, courses, research, and learning environments.
Establishing an Innovative Entrepreneurship Atmosphere in Universities and Colleges
To create an atmosphere of innovative entrepreneurship in universities and colleges, since 2012, the Ministry of Education has promoted the Foundation Project of Innovative Entrepreneurship in Universities and Departments. In 2018, the participating groups were expanded from standard universities to technical and vocational colleges. The title of the project was renamed the Foundation Project of Innovative Entrepreneurship in Universities and Colleges, which strengthens the advanced practical courses related to entrepreneurship establishment, and guides universities to emphasize on providing students with innovative practical entrepreneurial courses. This project also includes a series of courses in entrepreneurship management, to learn the practicalities of founding a company, and intensive short-term training to understand financial proposals. Also, in accordance with the system for innovative company internships, the operation of innovative companies could be understood through practical experience in different positions of a company, such as human resources, finance, and operations.
The Promotion of the Yushan (Young) Scholar Program, Attracting Talents from the World to Teach in Taiwan
Attracting talent from the international world to teach in Taiwan, and have access to the academic resources that international talents bring to Taiwan, have had a profound development in Taiwan’s academic fields. The Ministry of Education has offered internationalized competitive salaries. The MOE has also provided additional salaries for excellent in-service members in the teaching and research fields, and guided schools to invest in the subsidization of flexible salaries and to expand salary levels, so as to encourage talented scholars to stay in Taiwan. Since 2018, the Ministry of Education has promoted the Yushan (Young) Scholar Program, which is divided into three parts:
I. Yushan (Young) Scholars (Recruitment of talents from the international world)
1. The target recruitment groups are divided into two groups: Yushan Scholars and Yushan Young Scholars. There are two review measures: the guaranteed pre-approved numbers and the standard application process. These two measures offer certain schools the flexibility to recruit talents in timely fashion.
2. In addition to providing internationalized competitive salaries, the Ministry of Education and universities will both offer supporting measures for recruitment (for example, administration fees, teaching and research fees, resettlement costs, assistance with children’s education and expenses of facilities.)
II. Flexible Salaries
1. Schools may execute their own regulated flexible salary programs through use of the funds provided from the Higher Education Sprout Project. Schools which compete in and win international competitions or establish research centers via the Higher Education Sprout Project may use 20% of the funds of the first initial reception of the subsidization for carrying out teaching innovation, developing school features, and enhancing the publicness of the higher education. Schools which do not win the international competitions or establish research centers may use 5% of the funds of the first initial reception of the subsidization.
2. Schools should allocate the flexible salaries according to the lowest payment rate regulated by the Ministry of Education for the purposes of guiding schools to invest in resources and ensuring the flexible salaries in schools can be maintained.
3. To ensure a certain rate of young teachers receive a flexible salary and resources, each school should review and offer teachers whose positions are at the vice professor level an appropriate portion of the flexible salaries, regulated autonomously by each school.
4. The Ministry of Education provides schools which have good performance in the flexible salary project with subsidizations to encourage schools to expand salary levels.
III. 10% of additional salaries for Academic Research for professors
From the academic year 107, teachers whose academic position is professor level in national universities have had their salaries adjusted and increased to be given a 10% salary increase for research subsidizations, which is NT$ 5,445 every month. Expanding the additional subsidization grades between professors with different academic levels is expected to assist in enhancing teacher motivation in achieving higher academic level promotions, and thus remaining in colleges and universities to teach.
The Advancement of the Multiple Teacher Promotion System
In order to guide teachers to different teaching groups in accordance with their expertise, the Review Affairs Regulations of MOE Provides Schools with Subsidizations for the Multiple Teacher Promotion System was announced in July of 2013. The Multiple Teacher Promotion System has been promoted since the academic year 102. In the academic year 103, this system was implemented on a wider scale. The result of practical teaching and technique applications were added as important evidence for evaluation. In the academic year 104, schools in the working circles proposed their advice regarding this model of the Multiple Teacher Promotion System and their comments were organized and included in handbooks provided to all schools as a reference. The contents of the handbook included:
1. The establishment of the definition for teacher promotions, which includes practical teaching performance and research performance.
2. The compilation of regulations in pilot operational schools to consign private organizations to implement the promotion system.
3. The multiple teacher profession development system is suggested to be established in the teachers’ career development framework, including application qualifications, criteria, and the overall supportive guidance measures and systems in schools.
4. The qualifications of review members for reviewing practical applications in departments.
5. The definition of academia-industrial cooperation should be expanded.
Through the career development, the following goals are expected to be achieved: guiding teachers to different teaching groups in accordance with their expertise, deepening the range of teaching and technical application in the field, and combining various types of talent cultivation and practical learning applications, thus building a solid foundation. The rate of review proposed through the Teachers’ Multiple Upgrading System was increased significantly from 4.96% (academic year 102) to 10.21% (academic year 106).
To continuously carry out the teacher guidance in different groups, since the academic year 105, the Ministry of Education has promoted the subsidization project for teachers’ multiple promotion in focused schools. The operation period of this project was during the academic year 105-107. Schools should regulate standards regarding the Multiple Teacher Promotion System. Through this policy, it is hoped to achieve the following purposes: guiding schools to come to a consensus on various and fair evaluation systems, altering the focus of academic research toward a single path for promotion, developing school and student practical field research, connecting student cultivation, and deepening the value of the multiple teacher promotion.
To boost the enhancement of teaching quality, from August 2018, the Ministry of Education has promoted the College and University Teaching Realization Research Project and offered teachers subsidizations for undertaking fulfillment of teaching research. Teachers are encouraged to propose all types of effective teaching measures for student learning, for instance: innovative teaching methods, teaching material development, designing teaching action programs, and student evaluations. It is expected that through the process of teaching research, teacher investment in teaching and student learning may be connected, and thus to encourage teachers who are good at teaching to integrate parts of teaching results and the teacher promotion system. Then, finally to uplift the efficiency of student learning, and to attain the teaching goals of schools.
The Demonstration of the Power of Universities and the Fulfillment of Social Responsibilities
The functions of universities are not only for academic research and talent cultivation, but also cultural development, social services, and inspiration for national development. Universities shoulder the responsibilities of connecting with local areas and fulfilling university social responsibilities in order to drive the development of local areas, boost cultural revival, recreate the glories of communities, and create the value of local areas.
To enable universities to be in line with the future promotional development goals of higher education, the Ministry of Education established the Subsidization Regulations of MOE Promotion of Colleges and Universities to Fulfill Social Responsibilities. In 2017, the University Social Responsibility Fulfillment Project (USR Project) was promoted. In the year 2018, Schools had been gradually guided to include ‘the fulfillment of social responsibility’ as a focused core item of school affairs development. It is hoped that these measures may spur all universities to firmly connect themselves with the local areas, encourage teachers and students to be willing to participate in and fulfill social responsibilities, and assist universities in developing their own unique features.
The main pillars of the University Social Responsibility Fulfillment Project are to connect with local places and to cultivate talent, which leads all schools to start from the core concept of caring for people and to meet the needs of local places. Universities are encouraged to fulfil their social responsibilities so as to strengthen the connection between universities and local places. Through the leadership of teachers and with students carrying out cross-department and interdisciplinary cooperation with different teams, universities or connections with local city or county government and resources of industry, both the industrial communities in local places and development of social cultural creation can be promoted. Thus, this should create cultivated students of the new century with problem-solving skills, willing to respond to these problems, and the motivation to take action. The affinity to local places can motivate the ideas of working or bringing entrepreneurs to local places, which further activates the development spirit and innovation of local areas.
The Flexible and Diverse Degree Conferral and Education System
Since 2017, the Ministry of Education has carried out the revision of the Degree Conferral Act. This is in response to current education trends and conditions. It is also for the purposes of degree conferral by creating a more flexible and diverse education system, and enhancing the competitiveness of talented individuals in the international world. For assisting the innovative development of higher education, the focused points of this revision include: promoting the categorization of talented students into different groups, increasing various substitution methods for the thesis for degree completion, allowing students to take courses of different grades levels, allowing for students to have double minors in different schools, conferring students degrees in accordance with academic fields, courses they truly study, and providing the flexibility for students in the industry-academia cooperation classes to enter workplaces first and then earn a degree later. This law revision was revised and announced on November 28, 2018. The explanation of this revision focused on the following points:
1. Relax degree titles: create more flexible degree titles. Schools can regulate the degree titles according to the academic fields or courses that students study. After being reviewed by the related institutional affairs meeting of schools, the degree titles shall be implemented.
2. Diverse and flexible university education system: students can take courses in faculties, departments, and programs with flexibility. Students will be bestowed degrees in accordance with the academic fields or courses that they study.
3. Allow associate bachelors to have double majors in either the original school or other schools: students of masters and doctoral programs can have minors at the same academic level or lower academic levels.
4. Increase various methods for degree completion to replace a thesis: students enrolled in masters programs in the field of physical education (sports) are allowed to use achievement records attached with paper reports or technical reports to be a substitute form of a thesis. For other practical professional fields at the master’s degree level, students can also use practical professional reports to be a substitution for a thesis. For the doctoral programs in the fields of arts, applied technology and physical education (sports), students can use works, achievement records attached with paper reports or technical reports as a substitute for a thesis.