Taiwan's education ministry pushes universities to start winter break early for 2020 elections

Many schools scheduling final exams earlier to allow students time to exercise their voting rights

National Taiwan University Hospital campus. (NTHU photo)

National Taiwan University Hospital campus. (NTHU photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Education (MOE) is sending letters to universities nationwide asking them to administer final exams earlier, as some current testing dates would conflict with the Jan. 11 elections.

Many schools have already changed the dates of finals accordingly. National Taiwan University (NTU), National Cheng Kung University, National Tsing Hua University, and National Chiao Tung University have scheduled them a week earlier, while the schedules of some other institutions remain unchanged.

The MOE is said to have first asked universities in March to run their final exams, originally scheduled for the week of January 13-17, a week earlier to allow students time to return home to vote. Most have adjusted their calendars to meet the request.

WuFeng University, Shih Chien University, and Lunghwa University of Science and Technology told UDN that they have recently moved their final exams up a week to January 6-10 to enable students to exercise their voting rights. This also means a longer winter break for students this year.

The Lunar New Year holiday will start on January 24, 2020, and students will return from their winter break on February 16.

To further encourage students to vote, NTU, National Taiwan Normal University, and the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology are said to be working with the Taiwan Railways Administration to implement exclusive services on January 10, the eve of the election, to get them home on time.

As the January elections are just 39 days away, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's candidate, incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), maintains a comfortable lead over the opposition Kuomintang's Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in recent opinion polls and has garnered more support from young voters.