The China Post news staff
October 9, 2013, 12:07 am TWN
As a developing country — one that pulled itself up by its agriculture and light industries — Taiwan has been gradually focusing more and more on its education; thinking correctly that it can progress into a well-developed nation with a generation that enjoys a better education than the one before.
In the 1970s, private universities arrived, hoping to open another door to prospective learners that were stripped of the opportunity due to Taiwan’s limited budget for education. But who knew that the problematic bud of private education would be blooming and throttling the nation’s future over the next 40 years.
It is now 2013. Around three quarters of college students are enrolled in private institutes in Taiwan.
While many private elementary schools and middle schools have succeeded in boosting the academic performance of their students, many private universities have gained a bad name throughout these 40 years with entrants able to pay tuition in exchange for a college degree. Many of the private institutes were established by industries with profit-driven motives, a notorious trend that the government somehow tolerated.
The outcome has only given the nation new batches of uncompetitive students.
It would not be exaggerating to dub many of these private colleges “for-profit schools.” The government egged them on when it lowered the minimum admission scores from the original 5 percent to 3 in 2009, after many industry-powered schools complained that they were not receiving enough students.
While the number of private colleges expanded, the birth rate dropped steadily, with many Taiwanese couples refusing to raise children or wishing for smaller families. The phenomenon would soon have schools grappling to admit enough students to stay open. The decrease in birth rates, the lack of students attending classes and lack of professors also proved that many institutes were unable to continue providing post-secondary education, prompting the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Education to encourage the unfit schools to close down.
Public and private college admittance rates topped 96 percent in the past decade, and yet the statistics continue to be mind-boggling. The top score of the nation’s college entrance exam is 500 points, yet students have been admitted into private colleges with pathetic 10-point scores — that’s how desperate the schools have become, grabbing onto students without ensuring the quality of education provided.
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