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Taiwanese–German Higher Education Policy Forum to Facilitate Scientific and Research Dialogue and Cooperation

Taiwanese–German Higher Education Policy Forum to Facilitate Scientific and Research Dialogue and Cooperation

   A delegation of ten dignitaries from eight prestigious German tertiary institutions attended the Taiwanese–German Higher Education Policy Forum held at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology on November 5. The German delegation was led by Dr. Peter-André Alt, President of the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), the association of public and government-recognized universities in Germany, representing all types of institutions of higher education. HRK currently has 268 member institutions, and it describes its function as being “… the voice of the universities in dialogue with politicians and the public and as the central forum for opinion-forming in the higher education sector. The HRK deals with all issues relating to the role and tasks of higher education institutions in academia and society, especially teaching and studying, research, innovation and transfer, scientific further training, internationalisation, and university self-administration and governance.” These higher education related issues are all equally central for the Ministry of Education.

   This policy forum, the second with participants from Taiwan and Germany, follows a similar Higher Education Forum, held in Berlin in 2016. It was organized by FICHET – the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan, the German Rectors’ Conference, and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology. The 84 participants from Taiwan included Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Mon-chi Lio, Director General Bi Cheu-An from the Ministry of Education, and presidents, vice presidents, and Office of International Affairs deans, representing a broad spectrum of Taiwan’s leading institutions of higher education.

   Deputy Minister Lio addressed the policy forum opening and emphasized the vital importance of international cooperation for equipping Taiwan’s students with the knowledge and skills to participate globally and respond to the challenges of the future. He expressed hope that the forum would boost the number of people engaging in innovation and research exchanges even further.

   The keynote speakers talked about each country’s higher education, research trends, technology innovation, and government policies. The forum had three sessions. The first was on “The knowledge triangle: Cooperation and transfer between university, business and society”. The second was on “Safeguarding university autonomy and academic freedom.” The final session, on “Future prospects for collaboration”, in the form of interactive roundtable discussions, was designed to facilitate the closer ties and dialogue among the university personnel and leaders that can benefit each country’s higher education sector.

   In addition to participating in the higher education forum, the German delegation also called on the Ministry of Education to discuss important issues facing higher education and the direction of future developments, and the Ministry of Science and Technology to discuss further technology-related cooperation.

   According to Ministry of Education statistics, 462 academic agreements have been signed between universities in Germany and universities in Taiwan, including agreements on student, and faulty exchanges, and joint research. Germany is second only to France among countries in continental Europe, for the number of its students coming to Taiwan. There were 1,351 German students studying in Taiwan last year (the 2018–19 academic year) and their number keeps increasing. In recent years, Germany has also become a popular study destination for young students in Taiwan. According to statistics from Germany’s Statistisches Bundesamt, approximately 1,500 students from Taiwan were studying in Germany in the 2014–15 winter semester, and in three years, this number climbed to about 2,500.

   The Ministry of Education hopes that this forum deepen mutual understanding, strengthen partnerships, and bring new vitality to research and other collaborations between the higher education sector of Germany and the higher education sector of Taiwan.