Taiwan mulling university tuition fee increase

Taiwan mulling university tuition fee increase
A class in session at Songshan Community College in Taipei.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa yesterday conducted a report at the Legislative Yuan regarding tuition fee increase requests from 23 local universities, stating that each article of the requests would be strictly inspected to guarantee the rights of underprivileged students.

Recently, 23 universities in Taiwan have applied for an average of 1.5 to 3.5 per cent increase to tuition fees for the year 2015, requiring students to pay an extra of NT$300 (S$13) to NT$1800 per semester.

The amount of universities that asked to increase their fees has also been noted as the highest number of applications since a regulation was passed in 2010 to allow fee increase requests on a yearly basis.

Regarding the requests, Wu attended a session conducted by Legislative Yuan's Education and Culture Committee to conduct a report and a subsequent briefing.

Wu's briefing mainly concerned the effects the tuition fee increase would have toward underprivileged students.

The minster said that the safeguarding of the rights of underprivileged individuals serves as one of the three main principles when inspecting tuition fee increase requests.

For the sake of the demographic, Wu said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will seek to launch a programme which will require Taiwan's top universities to increase enrollment opportunities for underprivileged students annually.

Currently, the amount of underprivileged student enrollment at such universities has been averaged at 1.3 per cent, with the National Taiwan University at 0.98 per cent. Through the annual increase of opportunities, the MOE is seeking to drive the population up to an average of 2 per cent by 2018.

The MOE has also proposed various ideas to benefit underprivileged students, such as increasing funding for the demographic at public schools from NT$90 million to NT$260 million, and at private schools from NT$140 million to NT$260 million.

ACEU Protests against Fee Increase

In response to universities' request to increase their tuition fees, the student-organised Anti-Commercialisation of Education Union protested outside of the MOE yesterday, imploring the ministry to turn down the fee increase requests from the 23 universities.

The ACEU, a familiar face that usually rallies against school fee increases, stated that by adding fees to benefit the underprivileged is mutually disadvantageous to the entire student population.

If the government really aims to help underprivileged students, the ACEU recommended that the government fully pays for the schooling of such individuals.

Aside from asking the MOE to turn down fee increase requests, the ACEU also gave five demands to the ministry, including the removal of the policy that enables universities to apply for fee increases annually.

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