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Taiwanese educators study IU

Bloomington Herald-Times, May 10

Taiwanese educators study IU
By Steve Hinnefeld
May 10, 2007

National Taiwan University is the leading university in Taiwan. But that's not good enough for the Taiwanese government, or for the school's administrators.

They want it to be one of the top 100 universities in the world. And to reach that goal, officials say, the 32,000-student institution in Taipei needs to improve the quality of its teaching and learning.

That's why officials from NTU's Center for Teaching and Learning Development were in Bloomington this week, meeting with Indiana University faculty members and touring the IU campus.

"We don't want our faculty to focus on research only," said Yi-Huah Jiang, a political science professor who directs the teaching-and-learning center. "A university is different from a research institute."

A seven-member delegation's Indiana visit was squeezed between trips to the universities of Michigan and Illinois. A year ago, the same group toured U.S. East Coast universities.

Been-Huang Chiang, the dean of academic affairs at NTU and the leader of the delegation, said the group is determined to improve college-level instruction for the benefit of its students.

"These students we have are the leaders of Taiwan in the future," he said.

The educators said they picked up concrete ideas at IU, such as locating academic centers in student dorms and offering intensive language instruction for international students.

Jiang liked IU's Center for Educational Sciences Research and P-16 Collaboration, established to work with elementary and secondary schools. He said too many undergraduates aren't ready for the rigors of college, and "if you want to change that situation, you have to change the high-school teaching."

While NTU is highly regarded, it is part of a higher education system in flux, the officials said. Taiwan's college-age population has declined, and some universities are likely to close. And East Asia is a hotbed of competition, with strong universities in Japan, China and Hong Kong.

Chiang said Taiwan universities face the same pressures as their U.S. counterparts: growing competition, public funding that doesn't keep pace with needs and concern about rising student costs.

"This year we tried to raise tuition 3 percent," he said. "There were protests and pressure from legislators."