NOTES ON TAIWAN'S EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
NINE-YEAR COMPULSORY EDUCATION
The system of education in Taiwan begins with nine years of free,
compulsory education. There are both public and private schools, but the
textbooks for these nine years are all prescribed by the Ministry of Education,
as are the curriculum and the tuition charged by the private schools.
Attendance for these nine years (divided into six years of elementary and three
years of junior high school) is almost 100%. Ninety-nine percent of the
elementary level schools are public and about 92% of the junior high schools
SENIOR SECONDARY LEVEL
After the ninth grade, entrance to the next level of education is by
examination only, although some experimentation is being carried out in Taipei
to allow for entrance according to grades instead. This senior level of
secondary education includes three-year academic, college-preparatory high
schools; three-year vocational high schools; and an alternative unique to
Taiwan, the five-year junior college program (see Junior College Programs
below). The high schools are divided almost evenly between public and private,
with the private ones having the edge. In 1993, 87.78% of junior middle school
graduates entered one of these three senior secondary level programs.
Students face still more examinations after graduation from senior high
school before being eligible for entrance to postsecondary institutions. They
take these exams in July after graduation from high school, and will not know
until August which school, if any, they will attend in September.
The types of postsecondary education now available are four-year senior
(bachelor-degree-granting) college programs, and two-year junior college
programs designed for vocational high school graduates. Until very recently,
there was also a three-year junior college program available, considered
necessary for the academic high school graduates who need an extra year of
technical education. However, at this writing, only three remain, and they are
on the way out. The schools which had these programs are either upgrading to
bachelor degree-granting institutions, or simply dropping the three-year
programs and retaining their two-year and five-year junior college programs.
Institutes of Technology
Since 1988, a new form of four-year bachelor degree-granting college has
emerged: the institutes of technology. Entrance to some of these is through
the same exam which is given for entrance to the two-year junior college
programs, rather than through the senior college entrance exam. Though these
institutes are intended for graduates of the senior vocational schools, senior
high school graduates are also eligible to take the entrance exam. In
addition, these schools will admit graduates of two-year, three-year, and
five-year junior colleges for completion of the two upper division years
leading to the bachelor's degree. Some of these institutes were previously
three-year junior colleges.
For those who are not successful in passing the entrance examination for
the day session of the four-year bachelor-degree-granting colleges or for that
of the junior colleges and institutes of technology, or who are unable to
attend day sessions, there are other examinations for entrance to the night
sessions of both the senior and junior colleges.
Some take the separate joint entrance examination for the eleven military
colleges (including two police colleges) which offer junior college-level,
bachelor, some master's and a few doctoral programs. They are not established
by the Ministry of Education, but the degrees are recognized by the Ministry.
Entrance Exam Results
In 1993, 65.48% of senior academic high school graduates entered one of
the forms of post-secondary education described above, while only 18.03% of
vocational high school graduates did so. Of the 126,126 who took the entrance
examination for the day sessions of the 51 bachelor degree-granting colleges in
1993, 43.87% were admitted.
Bachelor Degree-Granting Institutions
As of 1993, there were fifty-one institutions in Taiwan which grant the
bachelor's degree. Twenty-three were are private, twenty-seven are "national",
and one is municipal. Of the twenty-eight public institutions, nine are
teachers colleges and three are normal universities. Five private institutes
of technology have been established since 1989, and two such institutes have
been upgraded from public junior colleges, while one public institute of
technology (National Taiwan Institute of Technology) has been established since
1974. As explained above, the students in some of these schools follow the
vocational school track and take the same entrance examination as entrants to
two-year junior colleges.
In recent years, five junior colleges have upgraded to the bachelor
degree-granting level, and some have already awarded their first bachelor's
degrees. The are: Ming Chuan College; The World College of Journalism; Shih
Chien College; Taipei Institute of Technology; and Taiwan Academy of Arts.
Their students are required to take the United College Entrance Examination for
entrance to four-year colleges.
Junior College Programs
There are 73 junior colleges in Taiwan, of which 14 are public and 59 are
private. They offer two-year and three-year programs entered after high
school, and five-year programs entered after 9th grade. These colleges usually
specialize in one area, such as business, technology, languages, medicine,
nursing, journalism, or home economics. Their quality ranges from excellent on
down. Some are so good that their graduates regularly enter American graduate
programs in spite of the lack of a bachelor's degree. Very often on the
English transcripts these institutions do not identify themselves as junior
colleges, but simply as "colleges" or "institutes" (many people in Taiwan are
under the impression that the word "college" means "junior college" which can
lead to a great deal of confusion). But the transcript will show that no
bachelor's degree was awarded.
Five-Year Junior College Programs
The five-year junior colleg program is generally considered equivalent to
high school plus one or two years of college. For American admissions
officers, it is important to realize that a graduate of such a program will not
possess a high school diploma; he/she will only have a junior college diploma.
If such a student does not complete the entire five-year junior college
program, he or she will have neither a high school diploma nor a junior college
diploma; only a transcrpit and perhaps a certificate, stating that he or she
departed under normal circumstances, will be available.
In Taiwan, graduates of junior colleges are eligible to transfer to local
four-year colleges if successful in passing the transfer examination given by
the target school/department. They are also allowed to enter graduate
programs, in spite of not having a bachelor's degree, if they can pass the
entrance examination and have had two to three years of work experience.
Junior college graduates who transfer to American universities are
naturally interested in receiving as much credit as possible for their junior
college work. However, it is seldom possible for them to know in advance how
many additional credits they will have to complete before they can receive a
U.S. bachelor's degree. Some of the junior colleges have "sister" school
arrangements with American universities under which the American school agrees
on the level at which it will accept graduates of specified programs of the
Taiwan school concerned.
A few U.S. schools regularly admit graduates of Taiwan junior colleges
directly to graduate programs. This practice is usually confined to graduates
of well-known junior technical colleges who have outstanding records and high
GRE scores and are planning to study computer science or engineering.
Graduate education has been expanding steadily. Again, entrance is by
examination, but the examination is given by individual departments within
universities. The competition is extremely keen for some programs; for
example, the rate of admission to local MBA programs is less than 20% of
applicants. The insufficient number of graduate programs is one of the forces
behind the great numbers of Taiwan students seeking graduate education abroad.
Admission to both law and medicine programs is immediately after high
school; it is determined by the same examination taken for entrance to other
university programs. Only recently has it become possible to enter medical
school after university graduation, and this program is very limited.
Irregular Length of Course of Study
Occasionally, a transcript may show that a student took longer than the
average time to finish a given program. Aside from the possibility that the
student may have had some difficulty finishing for academic reasons, there are
two other possible explanations: (1) The program was an evening one (for
example, the four-year bachelor's degree generally takes five years in evening
school); or, (2) A special or professional program was involved (for example,
in at least one of the architecture programs entered after ninth grade, six
years are required instead of the usual five to earn the diploma).
Post-secondary schools recognized by the R.O.C.'s Ministry of Education
are listed in the Ministry's annual publication, Educational Statistics of the
Republic of China. Military schools are also listed there. For schools not
recognized by the MOE, Patrick Kennedy's book in the World Education Series
published by AACRAO (see below) is helpful, though for schools established
after 1977 it is of no use.
Graduates of schools not on the "recognized" list will usually not be
considered for government jobs that require a bachelor's degree.
STUDY ABROAD POLICY AND TRENDS
Since 1988, local regulations regarding who could go abroad for advanced
study and under what conditions have been almost totally abandoned. Since the
first part of 1994, even young men who have not completed their military
service are permitted to go abroad, if they are under the age of 20. Thus, any
ROC citizen, except males over 20 who have not completed their military
obligation, may consider study abroad at any level. The effect of this
disappearance of many of the regulations, in general, made it much easier for
students who wanted to study at the undergraduate level. The following
statistics suggest at the student flows from Taiwan to the U.S. since the
changes in regulations:
1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
F-1 6,802 7,753 9,179 11,275 13,033 13,230 11.477
Visas (+13%) (+18%) (+22%) (+15%) (+.01%) (-13%)
%at Und.* 10% 9% 13% 17% 18% 18% 16.9%
*Based on a sampling of those applying for F-1 visas each year.
The proportion interested in undergraduate education declined in 1993, and
even the growth in total numbers has halted and gone into reverse, judging from
the most recent figures. This is usually attributed to the increase in
opportunities for undergraduate education within Taiwan, and to the increasing
competition from Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, which all have
opened active educational centers in Taiwan recently.
SEEKING STUDENTS IN TAIWAN
Representatives of U.S. institutions who come to Taiwan seeking to learn
and provide information about their institutions are usually welcome. However,
the government frowns on agressive recruiting by foreign universities and
colleges. There are rules against it, as well as against the setting up of
branches of foreign universities in Taiwan. For further information about
these regulations, and to make sure in advance that plans do not infringe on
existing regulations, American college representatives may wish to inquire at
the nearest Cultural Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, which
represents Taiwan's interests in the U.S. The appropriate addresses are given
Cultural Div., TEACO in Canada
45 O'Connor St., Suite 1960
Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 1A4
Cultural Div., TECRO in U.S.A.
4201 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., #20
Washington, DC 20016-2137
Cultural Div., TECO in Boston
99 Summer St., Suite 801
Boston, MA 02110
Cultural Division, TECO in Chicago
180 N. Stetson Avenue, Suite 5803
Chicago, IL 60601
Cultural Div., TECO in S.F.
530 Bush Street, Suite 401
San Francisco, CA 94108
Cultural Division, TECO in N.Y.
2nd Floor 1230 Ave. of Americas
New York, NY 10020-1579
Cultural Div., TECO in L.A.
3660 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1050
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Cultural Division, TECO in Houston
11 Greenway Plaza, Suite 2910
Houston, TX 77046
Bureau of International Cultural & Educational Relations, Ministry of
Education, Higher Education in the Republic of China: A Guide for Foreign
Students. Taipei: 1991.
A guide to mos of the postsecondary institutions in Taiwan. For each
school, lists name in English as supplied by the school; address; very brief
history; campus area; no. of academic departments, graduate institutes,
teaching staff, and students; number of volumes in the library, and the date at
which bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs were established in each
department. This is the first year that the publication has attempted to
include junior colleges, an important improvement. Published irregularly; a
new, more detailed, edition has been in preparation sice 1993.
Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Education. Education in the Republic of
China. Taipie: 1994
A comprehensive view of the whole system, including constitution, school
patterns, organizational charts, and statistics. Annual.
Foundation for Scholarly Exchange. A guide to High Schools in the Republic of
Results of a survey of academic and vocational high schools in the
Republic of China. For each high school, gives enrollment, entrance exam
results, number and qualifications of faculty, special programs, grading
systems, etc. The only such guide available in English.
Kennedy, Patrick J. The republic of China (Taiwan): A study of the Educational
System of the Republic of China and a Guide to the Academic Placement of
Students in Educational Institutions of the United States. World Education
Series. Washington: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and
Admissions Officers, 1977.
A through discussion of the educational system and philosophy behind it,
as it was 17 years ago. The only publication in English which includes
non-M.O.E.-recognized post-secondary institutions. Has placement
recommendations. Badly needs updating, however. Until then, it must be
supplemented by more recent publications on this list.
Ministry of Education. Educational Statistics of the Republic of China.
A gold mine of information, though not easy to use, since some of the
captions are in Chinese only and others are in both English and Chinese. At
present it seems to be the only publication with an up-to-date list in both
English and Chinese of all the M.O.E.-recognized post-secondary institutions
including the military ones. Also contains statistical reports of the entrance
Source: Educational Information Office
Foundation of Scholarly Exchange
2nd Fl., 1-A Chuan Chow St.