3rd Taiwan–Austria Higher Education Forum
The 3rd Taiwan–Austria Higher Education Forum was held online on March 17 this year to promote and deepen cooperation between institutions of higher education in Taiwan and Austria. Its overall theme was Connecting the Past, Present, and Future of the Cooperation in Higher Education between Taiwan and Austria. Approximately 190 scientists, academic staff, and students from over 90 tertiary level institutions in Austria and Taiwan took part and interacted.
This third forum was originally scheduled to be held in Austria in 2020 but the outbreak of the pandemic prevented its being held as planned and so this virtual forum was jointly organized by FICHET and Austria’s Agency for Education and Internationalization (OeAD).
Katharine Chang, Representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Austria, pointed out in her opening remarks that many cultural and educational groups from Taiwan have visited Austria in the past years. Three memoranda of understanding on educational cooperation as well as a working holiday agreement have been entered into between Austria and Taiwan. There are currently about 450 students from Taiwan studying in Austria, and close to 200 Austrian students studying in Taiwan. She encouraged the Austrian professors, scholars and experts participating in the forum to send their students to Taiwan to conduct research and to encourage more Austrian students to study in Taiwan. They can enjoy Taiwan’s diverse educational sector and interact with teachers, students, and people a warm and friendly social environment.
Mon-Chi Lio, Political Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education, gave the keynote address for the first panel session, on the “Challenges and Opportunities for Higher Education in the Post-pandemic Era”. He pointed out that although the COVID-19 outbreak has had an enormous global impact and so many areas of international exchange have been affected and restricted, Taiwan is one of the few places in the world that have managed to maintain regular in-class teaching. For this reason, it is particularly important to share Taiwan’s experience of COVID-19 preparedness measures on campus. He pointed out that the Ministry of Education had to consider innovative education strategies, as well as encouraging educational institutions and teachers to redesign their curricula and make good use of online learning and teaching methods. However, the introduction of digital technology also brings with it educational equity issues. The digital divide is an important factor that must be taken into account when considering the future development of the internationalization of education.
The panel discussions were moderated by Su Huey-Jen, president of National Cheng Kung University and chair of the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (FICHET), and an expert in the public health field. Representatives of a number of universities addressed the forum about their experiences in the implementation of online teaching, dual degree programs, and joint research projects during the pandemic.
This 3rd Taiwan–Austria Higher Education Forum gave participants a better understanding of a wide range of current developments in higher education and practical options for its further development in the post-pandemic era.