“The Confucian emphasis on education, and intellectuals’ special role in society have permeated Taiwan’s approach to higher education,” says Vincent Wei-cheng Wang, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences and professor of politics at Ithaca College, New York. “Culturally, parents want their children to go to [university], and often view a college diploma as essential to a life of success.”
The statistics back this up. Taiwan has one of the most highly educated populations in the world when defined by the percentage of adults with a college degree. For Taiwan, that figure is 39 per cent, compared with an average of 30 per cent among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Indeed, Taiwan’s constitution mandates that no less than 15 per cent of the total national budget should be devoted to educational expenditure, Wang explains – although critics say that not enough of this money goes to universities.