Taiwanese university apologizes to Filipino students for 'unfair working agreements'

Taiwanese university apologizes for 'unfair working agreements' Filipino students signed, offers compensation

Raymark (left), Trixie (center), and Joel (right). (CNA image)

Raymark (left), Trixie (center), and Joel (right). (CNA image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A university accused of exploiting Filipino students in a master's degree program for manual labor in a tile factory, issued an apology yesterday (March 7) and said that it would provide a number of forms of compensation to the students, reported CNA.

In a statement released yesterday, Yu Da University of Science and Technology (YDUST) in Miaoli, said that it had launched an investigation into allegations that several Filipino students enrolled in a master's program at the university had been duped by a labor broker and exploited for manual labor. The university apologized for not properly ensuring the students' working and living conditions in Taiwan and listed a number of steps it would take to rectify the situation and compensate the students financially.

The university said that it would file a lawsuit against Harvest International Limited Company for a refund, while providing a full refund to the students in advance. The students had been paying the recruitment agency a monthly fee of NT$2,000, reported CNA.

Student working at plant. (Photo from St. Christopher's Church)

The school said that it would refund students the money they had paid for tuition and various fees for the previous semester, and would provide full scholarships to those who meet their standards of academic performance. The students had been paying approximately NT$53,000 per semester, according to CNA.

In terms of room and board, the school said it would provide them an on-campus dormitory, free of charge. During their stay at the university, they will also be provided with coupons for dining on the campus.

If the students instead choose to transfer to another university or return to their home country, the university will offer them assistance to do so, and keep an updated student profile in the Ministry of Education database.

Lastly, it said that it would create a task force to assist the students in their studies, living, and work. This would include monitoring of their part-time work conditions and the quality of the teaching they are receiving.

Student working at tile factory. (Photo from St. Christopher's Church)

Yang Yu-hui (楊玉惠), director of the Ministry of Education's (MOE's) Technological and Vocational Education Department, was cited by CNA as saying that because the university had failed to properly oversee the students' work conditions, the university will not longer be allowed to accept foreign students. Yang added that prosecutors will investigate the use of Filipino students by the school.

However, YDUST told CNA that it had not yet received any order from the MOE to stop accepting international students.

At a press conference held on Monday by DPP Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅), three Filipino students, identified as Raymark, Trixie, and Joel, testified about their experiences being duped by a labor broker and exploited for manual labor by Yu Da University of Science and Technology (YDUST) in Miaoli.

Building on campus of YDUST. (CNA image)

The students, who were among 52 enrolled in a work/study program at YDUST, allege that they were compelled to work 40 hours per week at a tile manufacturing plant, double the legal limit. They say that they also were subjected to verbal abuse from factory managers, including Taiwanese curse words.

(Images of statement from CNA)