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July 2018

Taiwan splashes cash on English-medium university courses


The Taiwanese ministry of education has spent the equivalent of £100 million (NT$4 billion) in a bid to boost the number of English language courses in four of their top-ranking universities, the Taipei Times reports.

At present only 10 per cent of undergraduate courses, on average, are run in English, according to the newspaper.

The funding has been invested in academic programmes as well as on the ‘Yushan Project’, which is specifically aimed at recruiting and retaining competent academics while guaranteeing them appropriate salaries.

Despite the number of teachers from English-speaking countries at National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University, many students are not keen on choosing subjects taught in English, according to the ministry.

It said students’ reluctance to take courses conducted in English was due to concerns over their ability to follow the curriculum and perform well at university.

While all universities acknowledge the relevance of teaching in English to position themselves internationally, they are also cautious, the ministry added. The move comes amid the publication of a Shin Hsin University survey that revealed 69 per cent of primary and junior high school parents have opted for English cram schools or other after-school programmes to make sure their children learn English.

A slightly lower proportion, 64 per cent, said that English education in Taiwan’s schools was inadequate, the Focus Taiwan newspaper reported. According to the survey, 48 per cent of parents think cram schools and after-school programmes are more efficient in teaching English than regular schools.

When asked why they wanted their children to learn English, nearly 40 per cent of parents mentioned globalisation, and 37.9 per cent said it would guarantee employment.

More than 32 per cent said it was a ticket to higher education in Taiwan.

Pic courtesy: Kenttai

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