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Tuition hiked as new Minister of Education takes office
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-06 10:11 AM
One of the first acts of new Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa on taking office Wednesday is to announce an increase in tuition costs in both public and private universities in Taiwan. Pledging to operate on the basis of financial transparency and open access to campus matters, Wu explains that tuition should not be raised by an amount greater than the previous rate hike, which was 1.5 percent last year. That translates into an increase of NT$900 per year at public universities and NT$1650 at private universities, a raise which Wu terms “affordable.”

Current tuition and fees per semester are about NT$30,000 at public universities and NT$ 55,000 at private universities. On a yearly basis they would be about NT$60,000 and NT$110,000 respectively.

Wu notes that as president of National Chengchi University (NCCU) he had actively pushed for higher tuition fees, leading many people to fear that as Minister of Education he would become known as the "Minister of Higher Tuition and Fees." He says that as minister he will carry on with previous practices of holding any raises in tuition and fees to modest amounts

Appearing on a radio talk show Tuesday, Wu touched on the 12-year compulsory education system introduced at the start of the current school year. He acknowledged wide criticism over the weight given to essay writing in the most recent entrance exams and said the tests took too long to finish. He said the ministry is looking at these and other problems and will make needed changes in the system before the end of August. This does not mean that the 12-year system will be junked next year, he added.

The radio show host ribbed Wu as the holder of a Ph.D from a university in Taiwan. She pointed out that President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Jiang Yi-huah speak in English sometimes in their meetings, asking if he had fears that his “DNA” would not be on a par with some officials in the Ma-Jiang administration.

Wu responded that he had spent a year doing post-doctoral research in the US and that as director of the Science Administration Institute at NCCU he led groups of teachers and students to Europe every summer. He said he has been to at least a hundred universities all over the world, claiming that although he has not been a full-time student overseas he still has a great deal of knowledge and understanding about other countries.

Wu said Premier Jiang had talked with him for several hours before making a decision on his appointment as Minister of Education, and they found a lot of common ground in their ideas and thinking. He said that at most he should have about a year and nine months left in his term of office. In that short period of time he “will not have an opportunity to make any radical changes in education policy and will focus on adjusting current policies as needed."

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