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Taiwan’s college professors face layoffs as universities continue to shut down

252 college professors left jobless in the past 12 years due to decreasing student enrollment

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The main gate of Yung Ta Institute of Technology and Commerce, one of 12 universities closed since 2014.

The main gate of Yung Ta Institute of Technology and Commerce, one of 12 universities closed since 2014.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As many universities in Taiwan are being closed due to low enrollment, college professors find themselves facing unemployment.

According to UDN, the Ministry of Education (MOE), 252 college professors have been dismissed due to the closure of six universities, including Yung Ta Institute of Technology & Commerce (永達技術學院) and Toko University (稻江管理學院). Some professors chose to return to their hometown to become farmers, while others sought to teach at multiple universities as part-timers to make ends meet.

According to a former professor at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity, Huang Hui-chih (黃惠芝), whether the dismissal comes with a privileged severance or pension package, midlife unemployment is extremely challenging, given the difficulty of finding full-time teaching positions.

The alternative is teaching part-time at several universities and coping with taxing commutes. Huang also mentioned that some professors have been seeking teaching opportunities in China, but had been rejected due to their age.

There were also some who have changed their career path altogether. In an interview with News and Market, former university professor Li Li-ming (李立民), who holds a PhD in photonics, shared how he was forced out of his job in 2014 and became a banana farmer back in his hometown of Pingtung.

With the aim of redirecting the surplus of professors, in 2015 the MOE launched a platform responsible for training and job-matching for unemployed professors. However, the platform was not as effective as expected, with only 51 job matches made on the platform between 2017 to 2021, according to the National Policy Foundation (國家政策研究基金會).

In response, the MOE told UDN that it is improving the platform to offer more support.