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Social inequality spreads to higher education

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Joined: 27 May 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 8:53 pm    Post subject: Social inequality spreads to higher education Reply with quote

The results of a statistical survey conducted by a nongovernmental organization released yesterday found increasing trends of social polarity in Taiwan's higher education system. The study, "Growing Social Inequality Reflected also in Education" conducted by the Grassroots Influence Culture and Education Foundation (草根影響力文教基金會), revealed that students with middle or upper middle class backgrounds were more frequently attending publically funded schools, while 60 percent of students in lower income brackets attended privately funded universities.

Chen Sung-po (陳松柏), the head of the foundation's research division, concluded that while education has been traditionally seen as an equalizer of societal inequality, the research results indicate that families with more financial resources are attending public schools with lower tuition. Lower income students are in comparison attending higher costing private schools, translating into higher rates of student loan applications and time spent working part time to cover personal and tuition costs.

Among middle and upper income families, attendance at public universities (which are considered more prestigious and generally require more funding) versus privately run universities was distributed at 50 percent to 41 percent, respectively. This distribution varied greatly in lower income households, in which 25 percent of students attended public schools, and 63 percent attended private schools. Statistical data was based on 1,323 interviews conducted in May 2015, with a margin of error of 3 percent.

A paradox was apparent as students from more privileged backgrounds attended lower cost, state funded schools while students with fewer economic resources were more likely to apply for loans while attending higher cost private schools. In the area of student loans, the survey found that attendees of private run universities had 10 percent higher student loan rates compared to universities run by the state.

Principal of Shih-Chien University Michael J.K. Chen (陳振貴) indicated that inequalities were also geographically distributed as students who hailed from Southern Taiwan on average applied for more student aid than their northern peers by 13 percent. Students who study at private universities were more likely to work part time for personal income and paying tuition fees than public university students (67 percent versus 58 percent), while students studying in public universities were 5 percent more likely to have their daily living expenses covered by family resources.

The foundation recommended that the government increase financial support for lower income students who attend private universities in order to stave off the effects of socio-economic polarization. It also recommended reinstituting university entrance exams in order to increase the possibility of less privileged students gaining admission to more prestigious public institutions.

Some good research here but the results hardly a surprise. Taiwanese students from rich families located in the north are going to better state schools while the poorer students from the south are taking out loans and working like Trojans to pay off debt accrued while trying to get a degree from a crappy for-profit school in the private sector.
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