At today’s Cabinet meeting, Premier Lin Chuan said the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) higher education development project is important to Taiwan’s future as it will help universities develop special and innovative teaching programs, strengthen students’ core foundations and job skills, and meet industry needs for innovative talent.

Aside from this project, the government must also examine overall policies to ensure that Taiwan’s higher education institutes can produce the type of high-quality work force needed to advance national development, the premier said. The Degree Conferral Law should have more flexibility built into it, therefore, and the government must not overlook the importance of the humanities, social sciences and basic research when promoting education in business and other applications.

The premier instructed the MOE to proactively implement the following higher education policies:

1. In a globalized world of technological innovations and rapidly changing industrial environments, the MOE must equip the next generation with core abilities to work across multiple disciplines, think logically and solve problems, achieve innovation through diverse pathways, and apply science and technology. The MOE should make full use of policy tools to create a student-oriented learning environment that will enrich Taiwan’s human capital.

2. The MOE should consider extending experimental education programs to the college level to help students and faculty rediscover their passion for learning and teaching. Alternative schools that have proven successful should be used as examples to spur innovative thinking by universities and keep them up with the times.

3. To broaden the international horizons of Taiwanese students, the MOE should encourage colleges to collaborate with reputable schools abroad and offer joint programs. Greater flexibility should be given to instructors and how courses are designed.

4. In a time of declining birth rates, the MOE should help colleges transform and merge with other institutions by promoting a draft act governing private colleges and universities that are planning to transform or exit the market. This bill should also be given priority in the next session of the Legislature.

According to the MOE, the objectives of the higher education development project are to achieve teaching innovation, help each school develop its own unique character, promote university social responsibility, and make higher education a public resource for all society. Beginning 2018, the project will have an annual budget of NT$17.37 billion (US$571.4 million) and will include two main components: raising the quality of college education across the board while encouraging diversification of higher education, and helping universities become internationally competitive and establish top research centers.