Joined: 27 May 2008
|Posted: Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:30 pm Post subject: Taiwan to close up to a third of universities in next decade
|Taiwan’s Ministry of Education outlined plans late last month to merge or close up to 52 of the country’s public and private universities. The move comes in response to declining domestic enrolment as well as forecasts for further decreases in student numbers starting from 2016. After years of low birth rates, the ministry now projects that university enrolment in Taiwan will fall by about a third by 2023.
“Low fertility rates are an unavoidable reality,” said Deputy Minister of Education Chen Der-hwa. “Taiwan only saw 1.065 births per woman in 2013,” adds Focus Taiwan, “but experts say a rate of 2.1 births per woman is necessary to keep the population from shrinking.”
The ministry has called for universities to cut their enrolment quotas. It appears to be allowing some institutional discretion as to how enrolment will be cut, but is also offering financial incentives to encourage the process.
The government anticipates enrolment reductions of 35-40% and that between eight and 12 of the country’s 51 public institutions, along with 20 to 40 of its 101 private universities, will be merged or closed by 2023. The ministry will encourage consolidation in the public sector, but has indicated that it will not force private universities to close unless they are unable to meet ministry standards.
This latest announcement accelerates a process of consolidation in Taiwan’s higher education sector that has been unfolding for several years. It may signal that the ministry is prepared to take a more active role in further consolidating university operations in the country, and the enrolment forecasts for the next decade have no doubt played a part in strengthening the government’s resolve.
Official forecasts project a sharp decline in Taiwan’s population of university students beginning in 2016, and that the country’s university enrolment could decline by as many as 310,000 students overall (that is, in both private and public universities) from 2013 to 2023.
Looking more specifically at public university enrolment, the forecast is for a 35.84% drop from 363,324 students in 2013 to 233,093 in 2023. Projections include:
Undergraduate programmes will be hardest hit with a projected 39.6% drop from 301,820 in 2013 to 182,293 in 2023;
Masters and doctoral programmes will decline 14.55% and 37.4%, respectively, to reach a projected enrolment of 46,000 for graduate programmes and 4,800 for PhD programmes by 2023.
Along with the overall decline in enrolment, this forecast suggests a modest shift from undergraduate to graduate studies, with masters-level programmes accounting for a slightly higher percentage of enrolment in 2023 (20% as opposed to 14.82% in 2013).