EDITORIAL: Prevent School Closures – Taipei Times
Some private colleges and universities in recent years have experienced enrollment shortages, which some people have linked to oversupply and the country’s low birth rate, while others blame changes in admissions tests. and registration policies. Weak growth in household income is also blamed. Critics have called on the government to provide solutions, such as establishing a merger or exit mechanism for private institutions, or attracting more foreign students.
The Ministry of Education ruled last month that Fortune Institute of Technology in Kaohsiung should close on May 10 next year due to its poor financial condition and academic standards, making it the first private college of the country to close after a bill to close some private high schools. and colleges became law in April. Six other private colleges – TransWorld University, MingDao University, Kao Yuan University, Tatung Institute of Commerce and Technology, Taiwan Shoufu University and Chung Chou University of Science and Technology – are also on the ministry’s radar. They must restructure to meet government standards by May 31 next year or close.
The severity of the drop in student numbers has also spread to high schools. Last month, the ministry announced that Chimei Vocational High School in Kaohsiung and Tungji High School in Chiayi County had been on its “watch list” for two years due to declining student enrollment and deteriorating the financial situation, making them the first private high schools to face potential closure as the country grapples with a declining birth rate. In addition, the ministry’s K-12 education administration said that more than 20 private high schools and vocational high schools would be under the monitoring and supervision of the ministry over the next few years in view of the lower finances. standards.
To solve the problem of student shortages in colleges and universities, some experts suggest that private institutions recruit more foreign students. In line with the government’s new southbound policy, some private institutions have focused on Southeast Asian countries in their efforts to increase the number of students, but the effect is limited due to factors related to language, financial issues and work-study internship programs.
Others are urging the ministry to speed up the closure of underperforming private colleges and universities, but progress has been slow for years because there is no incentive for private institutions to do so. Meanwhile, a few pundits have called for a more flexible enrollment mechanism to appeal to near or retired seniors.
Schools can adjust daily schedules and lesson arrangements for younger and older students, so everyone can study at the same universities and enjoy the same resources. For older people, this would provide the opportunity to pursue lifelong educational goals and new opportunities to engage in the community. It would also relieve the government of potentially difficult choices about school closures due to student shortages.
Getting older people to study with younger students would require detailed planning and time to implement. However, not all universities need to take this step to increase the number of students, because each school has its own teaching capacity and teaching resources.
However, if the ministry intends to close underperforming schools or merge schools with low enrollment without considering long-term development options for those schools, that would be simply irresponsible.
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