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Cablegate: Southern Taiwan Youth Prepping for Global Business

VZCZCXRO0977
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #2056/01 1670533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160533Z JUN 06
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0704
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5319
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 7776
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 6488
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 7885
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0203
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1299
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 5260
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 9386
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 6530

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 TAIPEI 002056

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AIT/W, EAP/TC, INR/EAP, EAP/PD

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SCUL TW
SUBJECT: Southern Taiwan Youth Prepping for Global Business
Environment

REF: Taipei 0660

1. Summary: In 2004, Taiwan's Ministry of Education included
globalization as an important factor in the annual university
performance evaluation program. Local universities have worked to
comply by diversifying international exchange programs and
re-engineering campuses into international learning environments.
By beefing up English language training, student exchanges and
intake of foreign exchange students, universities hope to increase
student competitiveness in the global economy. However, according
to recent polling data, a majority of Taiwanese college students
think that they are less competitive than Chinese students,
believing that their lack of foreign language skills, professional
certificates and international experience will jeopardize their job
opportunities as well as their competitiveness in the global
business environment. Southern Taiwan universities and students are
actively participating in enhanced opportunities to obtain
international experience, despite serious concerns by academics that
the effort and resources spent will not yield significant results.
End Summary.

STEP ONE: INCREASED ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRAINING
---------------------------------------------

2. According to National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) Professor
Jason Huang, the Ministry of Education assesses a university's
"globalization" ranking by the number of foreign students, foreign
teachers, and hours of lectures being delivered in the English
language. Huang pointed out that "mobility" of professors and
students is very important to campus internationalization, noting
that good English language skills facilitate "mobility". Huang also
noted that lecturing in English or increasing the hours of English
language instruction is the first step to campus
internationalization.

3. In tune with this move toward globalization, National Taiwan
University of Technology now provides 200 hours of English language
classes for graduate school students free of charge during summer
vacations. National Taiwan University Business Administration
Institute Professor Lin Hsiu-wei noted that classroom lectures in
English can improve students' language skills and, more importantly,
help to attract foreign students to the university. Lin pointed out
that the presence of an increasing number of foreign students on
campus helps expedite campus internationalization, especially in the
areas of administration and teaching. Interacting with foreign
students in and outside class clearly exposes local students to
foreign mindsets.

STEP TWO: INCREASED STUDENT EXCHANGE OPPORTUNITIES
--------------------------------------------- -------

4. Participating in student exchange programs has been the most
popular international experience for many Southern Taiwan students,
especially for those who cannot afford expensive tuitions for higher
education abroad. Huang Shi-ping, an NSYSU graduate participating
in a student exchange program in Holland last year, pointed out
that, compared with European students, her international vision was
relatively limited. Huang said that before joining the exchange
program, she thought the experience would help with her prospects
for future employment. However, she discovered that the most value
from the program came from the chance for her to experience a
different culture.

5. Offsite teaching is another option for universities to pursue
the goal of internationalization. NSYSU started the CAT (Canada,
Austria and Taiwan) program, which is a pooling of educational
resources from Canada's Victoria University, Austria's Johannes
Kepler University at Linz and Taiwan's National Sun Yat-sen
University. According to Jason Huang, postgraduate students are
recruited to participate in this integrated transcontinental
business administration program with a focus on "doing business in
the region." The students attend classes and activities at the
three participating universities to study business administration
and economic issues in Asia, Europe and America. The first-year
class consists of five Taiwanese, ten Australian, and two Canadian
students.

6. In addition to offsite teaching, Southern universities use
overseas internships to cultivate students' competitiveness.

TAIPEI 00002056 002 OF 004


National Yunlin University of Technology Business Administration
Institute started overseas practical training programs in China and
Vietnam three years ago. Ke Yi-yun, an MBA degree holder from Yuan
Chih University, urged students to grab internship opportunities
abroad to accumulate international experience, which can add value
to a college diploma. Ke, born in 1982, obtained her MBA after one
year in graduate school and then six months on an exchange program
at Stanford University. She told AIT/K that the most useful courses
during her stay at Stanford were language and communication skill
courses, in which she had hands-on experiences participating in
academic seminars and business communication, writing a resume, and
conducting phone marketing and briefing.

STEP THREE: INCREASING THE INTAKE OF FOREIGN STUDENTS
--------------------------------------------- --------

7. According to Dr. Kuo Zhih-Wen, Associate Professor of National
Sun Yat-Sen University's Department of Electrical Engineering and
member of the pro-independence Southern Taiwan Society, the real
push behind the resources flooding campuses to promote the
"globalization standard" is to attract foreign students and
professors to top level Taiwan universities. By increasing the
number of classes taught in English, thus making them accessible to
foreign students, Kuo claims, Taiwan hopes to move toward getting at
least one of its universities into the world's list of top 100
academic institutions. Kuo sees this goal as unattainable in the
near future.

8. National Kaohsiung University of Applied Science and Technology
did open an MBA course to a group of Vietnamese students. However,
Wenzao Language College Professor Samuel Hong pointed out that
National Kaohsiung University of Applied Science and Technology has
not benefited from this course in terms of its globalization ranking
since those Vietnamese students do not actively interact with local
students owing to the language barrier. Hong gave an example of a
successful international exchange program conducted by National
Pingtung University of Technology in Southern Taiwan, in which
students are posted to developing countries in Asia and Africa to
assist in agricultural programs.

9. In February 2006, National Kaohsiung University inaugurated its
Administration College with an emphasis on cultivating
managerial-level talent with a global vision to meet the demands of
newly developed industries in the region, which include the deep
water harbor, the Tainan Science-based Industrial Park's Luchu Base
in Kaohsiung County, the Kaohsiung Air Cargo Transport Center, the
Kaohsiung Warehousing Transshipment Center, and the Kaohsiung
Multi-functioned Economic and Trade Park. According to Professor
Lee Po-chih, the Administration College, comprised of the Applied
Economics Department, the Asia Pacific Industrial and Business
Administration Department, the Financial Management Department, the
Information Management, and the Institute of Economics
Administration, is designed to cultivate students' global vision and
ability to integrate academic training within an actual global
business environment.

CONCERNS FROM POLITICIANS AND ACADEMICS ABOUT STUDENT PERFORMANCE ON
THE GLOBALIZATION STANDARD
--------------------------------------------- ---------

10. Taichung Mayor Jason Hu in his recent remarks to local college
students pointed out that Taiwan students' competitiveness in the
global environment has declined because of lack of international
vision and experience. Hu encouraged Taiwan students to prep
themselves by improving their knowledge, service, communication,
health, creativity, and vision to compete with their peers in the
global environment. Hu also noted that Taiwan students pay much
more attention to entertainment and show business news than to
political, national defense, and economic news. Hu suggested that
the number of Taiwan students studying abroad has decreased in
recent years, possibly contributing to lessening competitiveness in
the global environment. Hu encouraged Taiwan students to cultivate
an international vision, enhance English language skills, and
acquire new knowledge to prep for the global business environment.

11. Wenzao Language College Professor Samuel Hong told AIT/K that
only top college students are aware of the trend of globalization
and know how to benefit from it. Hong noted that the majority of
local college students do not care about their futures, and

TAIPEI 00002056 003 OF 004


certainly have no clear picture of globalization. Hong pointed out
that it has become a norm for Taiwan parents to encourage children
to pursue higher education as far as possible, resulting in
graduates who choose to go to graduate school even though they do
not actually enjoy academics. Hong also noted that going to
graduate school in Taiwan is much easier than before, since there
are vacancies in almost every department. Hong attributed the
increase in the numbers of universities and graduate schools to
Taiwan's election culture, in which politicians gain voters' support
by giving promises of opening new universities in their
constituencies. Hong also bemoaned that younger generations in
Taiwan are spoiled by their parents, who are willing to support
their children indefinitely. The younger generation hence, he
believes, gradually loses its competitiveness in all aspects.

12. Hong said that, based on his teaching experience, postgraduate
students in Southern Taiwan spend most of their time listening to
lectures and translating English language textbooks into Chinese,
rather than receiving training on independent thinking and academic
seminars. Hong noted that without independent thinking and the
ability to analyze and research, Taiwan students will never enhance
their competitiveness in the global environment. Hong told AIT/K
that he selects only elite students for the course he opened on
globalization issues, noting those students must possess fluent
English language skills and must display an understanding of and
willingness to adapt to the realities of globalization.

SURVEY RESULTS ON TAIWAN STUDENTS COMPETITIVENESS AND INCOME LEVELS

--------------------------------------------- ----------

13. According to a web survey in August 2005, 79.38 percent of
Taiwan's college students polled said that China's college students
are more competitive than their peers in Taiwan. In the same
survey, over 90 percent of those polled gave a score of 55.4 to this
year's college graduates; 68.75 percent of those polled said they'd
rather remain unemployed if they can't find an ideal job, whereas
59.85 percent of those polled said that the job market will become
more competitive than ever. When asked whether they will pursue
higher education, 82.89 percent of those polled said they will;
among them, 64.75 percent said they will pursue masters' degrees and
Ph.D. degrees overseas, while 33.18 percent said they will stay in
Taiwan for higher education. When asked about the reason for
pursuing higher education, 87.94 percent of respondents believe that
higher education gives them opportunities for faster promotions,
followed by knowledge (60.6 percent), and personal fulfillment (59.1
percent). When asked if a college diploma does not guarantee
employment, how they will find jobs, 79.3 percent of those polled
said they will accumulate different working experiences, whereas
77.89 percent of respondents said they will learn a secondary
specialty and obtain professional licenses.

14. According to Cheers Magazine on May 2, 2006, Taiwan college
graduates' starting salary has increased by 1.33 percent since last
year. However, the actual increase becomes negative when factoring
in the inflation rate, which is 2.3 percent this year. According to
the survey, the number of Taiwan's office workers who possess a
bachelor's degree and make a monthly salary of less than NT$25,000
has increased by 100,000 over the past five years.
The magazine pointed out that Taiwan society is creating a
low-income youth group, heavily reliant on parents to maintain its
living standard, which is expanding by 1 percent each year, as the
number of low-income youth has increased from 53,000 to 150,000 over
the past ten years. The same magazine article indicated that the
average starting salary for college graduates continues to increase
in Japan, South Korean and Hong Kong, although those countries have
suffered from financial turmoil and the SARS outbreak.

15. According to the South Korea Employer Association, the starting
salary for the country's four-year university graduates is
NT$62,000, which is more than double that of Taiwan. The higher
education population in South Korea constitutes 5.6 percent of its
total population; this is higher than Taiwan's 5.28 percent and
Japan's 3.12 percent. Owing to economic prosperity, the average
salary increase in South Korea is over 5 percent, which is higher
than its inflation rate. In Hong Kong, the unemployment rate has
dropped from 7.9 percent to 5.2 percent and the starting salary has
increased by 4 percent since the SARS outbreak three years ago.


TAIPEI 00002056 004 OF 004


16. National Policy Foundation Researcher Hsu Ming-chu pointed out
that a majority of professors surveyed by Business Week magazine in
April this year indicated that the qualifications of Taiwanese
college students are worse than those of a decade ago and less
competitive than PRC students. Hsu criticized Taiwan's educational
authorities for failing to upgrade traditional curricula and
teaching methodology as well as to strengthen educational programs
in the fields of lecturing in English, student exchanges and
substantial academic cooperation with foreign countries to broaden
the international vision of college students.

17. Hsu also pointed out that the number of Taiwan students
studying in the U.S. hit a record low of 11,277 in 2003, while the
PRC had the world's largest number of students studying in the U.S.
He concluded that Taiwan has lost its lead in the cross-Strait
competition to achieve internationalization. Hsu attributed the
decrease in the number of Taiwan students studying in the U.S. to an
increasing number of available openings in local graduate schools,
which offer direct and easy connections to higher education with
cheaper tuition for Taiwan students who are not willing to bear the
hardship and extra financial burden of study abroad. In addition,
the new defense technology military service attracted nearly 90
percent of masters' degree holders in electrical engineering and
information technology to stay in Taiwan, rather than pursue higher
education abroad, since Taiwan's hi-tech industries manage to offer
them good job opportunities and decent salaries as well as millions
of dollars of stock dividends each year. Cyber Digital Manager Chen
Wen-li believes that Taiwan professionals will be replaced in the
future by PRC professionals, rather than by Japanese or Koreans, in
international companies.

18. Comment: Compared to their peers in Northern Taiwan, who are
more closely connected to international cosmopolitan lifestyles,
Southern Taiwan youth are likely to encounter more obstacles when
trying to adapt to the shifting priorities in universities toward an
emphasis on globalization. This "globalization" standard stands in
sharp relief to the agenda of local Southern primary, secondary and
high schools to implement a policy that promotes Taiwanese identity
through classes emphasizing local language and history (see reftel).
These inconsistent educational directions have the potential to add
to the perceived decline of competitiveness. Further, since the
allocation of educational resources dedicated to higher education
regularly favors tertiary institutions in the north, it is likely
the competitiveness of college students in Southern Taiwan will fall
even further behind. End Comment.

Thiele

Keegan

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