Foreign nationals can now serve as university presidents in Taiwan and public universities have been granted the power to select their own leaders after the Legislative Yuan amended the University Law yesterday.
Under the old statute, the Ministry of Education was responsible for choosing a public university's president from a short-list developed by a university-established screening committee.
Following passage of the amendment, however, public universities will gain greater autonomy, and the selection committee will be able to select the new president on its own.
The individual would then be hired by the Education Ministry or local governments directly.
The amended law also requires public universities to form the selection committee 10 months before the expiration of the current president's term. Some 40 percent of the panel's members should be the university's professors or administrators, another 40 percent should be alumni and neutral citizens and the remaining 20 percent must be MOE or local government representatives.
As a result, Kuomintang Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) said, the MOE can only suggest candidates but not control the final choice.
Under the amended law, university president terms will be four years, and the MOE will be required to evaluate the individual's performance and recommend whether he or she should be rehired.
With more institutions in Taiwan developing international perspectives, the amended law loosened the qualification requirements for public university presidents, allowing foreigners to take over the top spots, as well as become deans and department heads.
Furthermore, the new law did not specifically prohibit Taiwan universities from setting up branches abroad.
After Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization on January 1, 2002, the Cabinet proposed that local universities could set up overseas branches, just as foreign schools have been allowed to set up shop in Taiwan under the WTO rules.
Pan-green lawmakers insisted on preventing universities from setting up branches in China, but the law eventually read that "universities could set up branches" without stating clearly whether these branches could be established abroad.