The secretary-general of National Chung Cheng University yesterday launched a hunger strike in front of the Ministry of Education to protest against the distribution of funds earmarked for the MOE's investment project "NT$50 billion in five years" and the project's questionable selection process.
According to the MOE's project, the government will invest NT$50 billion over a five-year period, that is, NT$10 billion each year, in higher education to better develop top universities with the ultimate aim of firstly making a Taiwanese university become one of the top 100 universities in the world within 10 years and secondly making 10 domestic university departments or research centers the best in Asia.
According to the MOE, 29 universities applied to receive the funds. Of these, 17 passed primary selections while five, including CCU, did not.The MOE will invest NT$9.8 billion in a total of 12 universities next year.
The selection process, however, was not transparent and 25 percent of the 17 reviewers never even attended screening meetings, and the MOE did not explain its standards for review clearly - resulting in the final name list not only enraging the five unselected universities but also prompting the Legislative Yuan to freeze the project's budget.
The MOE promised that it would subsidize the five universities' plans that they had composed when in running for inclusion in the project in another way to help the five universities develop well.
But the secretary-general of CCU Michael S. Chen still insisted on launching his hunger strike yesterday, stressing, "The dollars (the MOE would provide for CCU's plan) should be part of the NT$50 billion project." He emphasized, "National Chung Cheng University must be one of the universities of excellence." His protest sign read, "Hunger strike against an 'ill-executed' 5/500 project (NT$50 billion in five years). "
Chen said that he would not stop his strike until the MOE agrees to revise the final name list and include CCU among the investment project. In response, the MOE called on Chen not to make threats and protest against the MOE by holding a hunger strike in the cold weather, hoping Chen would pay attention to his health. The MOE stressed that Chen should communicate with the MOE in a rational way and said that the CCU's plan was not up to scratch, suggesting the CCU could cooperate with other schools more to improve itself.
The Education and Culture Committee of the Legislative Yuan will hold a coordination meeting regarding the investment project "NT$50 billion in five years" and Chen hoped that the results and the MOE's response to his request would not disappoint him.