Scott Sommers’ Taiwan Blog

The Future of Foreign English Teachers in Asia

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 24, 2009

I originally started this post to talk about the future of English teaching in Asia. Along the way, it became a post about the idea of ‘mainstream scholarship’ and how trends in the spread of scholarship as a market are effecting foreign teachers in Asia and Taiwan. Democratic integration into global society is a relatively recent phenomenon for most Asians. The institutional history for most of Asia is deeply tied to colonialism and military rule. Much of the history of the recent democracies in South Korea and Taiwan can be interpreted as part of their struggle to attain economic and political independence from decisions made in the larger, more affluent nations of Europe and North America, and establish themselves as a source of industrial, political, and academic status.

The English teaching in Taiwan and Asia has been deeply entwined with these changes. The role that we associate with foreign English teachers at the universities of this region is very much associated with an older less autonomous status of its nations. As such, I expect that the foreign English teacher at Asian universities is on the demise. In the next few years, the system we are familiar with will cease to exist. As Asian countries become more and more incorporated into globalized networks, universities here will increasingly become similar to universities in Western nation. This is not to say there will be any shortage of jobs for foreign English teachers. Huge numbers of jobs will continue to be available. The difference will be these jobs will be deskilled and heavily marginalized as they converge on the role played by ESL/EFL teachers in the core English-speaking nations.

English Teaching in the Core

The concept of core, semi-periphery and periphery is credited to sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein in his formulation of the World Systems Approach. It is now widely incorporated into other disciplines, including English teaching where the concept of ‘core’ is played by hegemonic claim to the title of ‘native speaker’.

In core English speaking states, classroom teaching of English as a second language (ESL) is largely relegated to public school teachers. English as a foreign language (EFL) is taught primarily in language centers which can be either public or private. In private language centers, instructors are frequently marginally qualified and poorly paid. University-based language centers that offer this sort of instruction generally demand master’s-level degrees and pay slightly better. Neither of these would be considered ‘good jobs’ by comparison with standard professional employment. For the most part, classroom teachers in either setting offer little in the way of career future. University language center instructors are not faculty members and would have to keep lengthy hours at school with limited vacation time. They would also not be tied in with the knowledge creation/research mechanism that is what differentiates the Western universities from other teaching institutions.

While those of us in the language teaching industry are familiar with the working conditions I refer to, here are some examples of what I mean. This job, for example, would be very competitive (see here for other similar jobs). The pay is reasonable, but it would probably require regular working hours and is only a 12-month contract. Nor is there a lot of such employment available for master’s degree holders. I have meet many master’s degree holders who do not have a teacher’s certificate who could not find reasonable employment in the USA or Canada.

English Teaching in Japan

Japan offers an interesting description of English teaching. While clearly a core nation for industrial production, Japan has had a very different kind of history from other non-English speaking core states. It has never been colonized and did not suffer the enormous economic drain and damage to development experienced in other Asian states.The importation of foreign expert labour into Japan during the Meiji Restoration is an often repeated story about Japanese development. This importation of expert workers continued up until militarism made it difficult, but was resumed following the end of the Second World War. Japan’s economic development and it’s relative political freedom combined with this history producing the first example of the commercial language school market and acting as a model for its spread throughout Asia.

When I taught in Japan from 1989 to 1994, a huge market for native English speaker language teachers was already well-established. Unlike the current situation in Taiwan, South Korea, and China, the largest portion of this market was the adult’s teaching market. The children’s market in Japan, on the other hand, continues to be poorly developed compared with the rest of Asia.

The conditions of foreign teachers in Asia are in many ways similar to those found by other workers throughout the world. Few language teachers have skills to peddle outside of aspects of their culture and language. The vast majority never achieve local language fluency. As a result, they remain ghettoized in a ‘culture industry’ requiring these services. In a situation similar to that found in the rest of Asia, foreign teachers in Japan have been forced by harsh working conditions in the commercial sector to pursue either ownership of a commercial school or attach themselves to a large educational institution.

At that time I was in Japan, it was widely accepted that universities provided the best jobs. For example, a colleague of mine with a Canadian law degree attended Temple University so she could get an M. TESOL and enter the university teaching market. In the early 1990s, university positions were so attractive that teachers like my colleague would go through great cost and trouble to qualify for them. Current jobs are much less attractive. This was a volatile time for the Japanese education market and demographic trends deeply effected school attendance. My friend was initially offered a job at a private university in Nagoya. When this university closed, she moved to another private university in Kyushu. When that school closed, she immigrated to Australia.

One answer to this has been the push to attract foreign students. The idea that huge numbers of students could or would master Japanese to study in Japan has not been viewed as realistic. Instead, there has been the creation of a large market for English-medium instructional universities, such as the Akita International University where my friend Dr. Percy Santos is a professor, that employ Ph.D. holders who teach academic content classes in English. Holders of master-level degrees can still find work, but these jobs have been significantly marginalized in the university hierarchy and are not at all attractive. Descriptions of the harsh contracts offered foreign teachers in Japan abound. I can provide an endless number of links to them, but for those of us in the industry, this is already old news. This 2001 description from Roger Jones VP of the University Teacher’s Union makes the picture clear. there is this article from The Independent or this recent article from the Japan Times. You could also check out the 105 names listed on the Black List of Japanese Universities. But I think my point is clear. For a typical master’s degree holder, Japanese universities do not provide a good market of jobs

English Teacher Market in the Semi-Periphery

Here I want to discuss some of the changes occurring in the semi-periphery states, such as Taiwan and South Korea. As these states battle for emergence into the core, education and universities are being used as an engine of change. There has always been the argument that education has been at the cusp of development in these states. A closer look makes it appear that education has been a result of development rather than a cause – citizens in states consume more education as they develop.

Demographic constraints on states are only one of the growing issues facing development in East Asia. Incorporation into the global economy has pressured these economies away from traditional goals toward goals defined by shareholders and accountants. The result has been a reorganization of education along the lines of core nations. Schools have become part of an industrial machine aimed at achieving vague concepts of ‘national competitiveness’. Government policies have aligned schools into national economic strategies that equate them with ‘excellence’. Universities in the semi-periphery are being forced into the research model of the university that attracts external funding and status. A secondary goal being forced on the university is as an industry that attracts foreign students willing to study in a downstream economy. Neither of these models have much room for the role that foreign native-speaker English teachers have historically played.

In economies competing for status and funding between schools, there is little place for the cost and trouble associated with keeping large numbers of foreign citizens around just to talk with students. The answer in the core nations of English has been to provide remedial English education for domestic and foreign students and allow the bulk of the university community to continue with its resources and funds for the historical function of knowledge creation. In the semi-periphery, we have seen the dismantling of the foreign teacher system along the lines seen in the English-speaking core and in Japan.

The Taiwan version of this change is well-known to readers of my blog. Foreign English teachers are being squeezed out of the market and replaced with researchers. The squeeze on master’s degree holders has been apparent for a long time. I have said many times there are still jobs available for such teachers, but the reality is that universities are increasingly looking for PhD holders with a research record.

The Future of the Foreign Teacher

Foreign teachers are not going to disappear. I should even say they are not disappearing. There are vast numbers of foreign teachers in the private sector. Universities and colleges continue to offer jobs to foreign teachers that are superior to private sector jobs. The difference is in the privilege afforded to these teachers. Increasingly, there will be a two-tier system of employment. Those with established research records or special academic skills will compete for prized jobs that offer flexible working hours and little student contact. Those with master’s degrees will be relegated to handling the bulk of day-to-day operations for the university, including managing most of the contact hours and work-intensive activities that involve students. Privileged positions for foreign teachers will most likely continue in struggling economies like China or Thailand. In more developed economies, like Taiwan and Japan, universities offering such jobs will increasingly be rural schools that provide poor support and working conditions and little opportunity for research even among those motivated in this direction.

The role of the foreign teacher is increasingly being marginalized, not only from the universities in Taiwan, but also from the role of university faculty internationally. Historically, foreign English teachers have interpreted their position as foreign experts within inferior education systems. This is no longer the internal interpretation of foreign English teachers in the university systems of industrialized Asian states. Increasingly, Asian universities are adopting the same definition as universities in the core. Foreign English teachers are staff in language centers, assistants to professors doing research, or temporary employees with no security or meaningful future inside the system.

KMT Labour Policy: A Break with the Past?

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 12, 2009

The relationship between education policy and labour has historically been very strong in Taiwan. I have posted several times about this connection under the DPP. The DPP as continued earlier policies begun by the KMT that successive generations of Taiwanese need to demonstrate class mobility. While it was fine for grandparents to be farmers and parents to be clerks, the DPP combined a series of labour and educational policies to assure children should emerge as professional workers. It has taken a while for Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九) to replace this policy but it appears he is constructing a very different direction for Taiwan employment and class structure.

Faced with economic difficulties, Ma and his cabinet have taken the unprecedented move of expanding working-class employment for Taiwanese. The February 3 Taipei Times tells us, concerning this policy,

…the Cabinet said it would launch a four-year economic stimulus drive to create 150,000 jobs and cut the unemployment rate to below 4.5 percent this year…Of the new jobs, the Cabinet said between 120,000 and 140,000 would be created through the construction of public infrastructure, while upwards of 20,000 service jobs would be created in the public sector…the government said it would seek the cooperation of private enterprises in cutting the number of foreign workers on their payrolls to open another 30,000 jobs for local workers.

It is difficult to imagine whose going to working on these construction projects given the almost universal rate of university attendance among college-age Taiwanese. Is Ma suggesting market restructuring that will drive college-educated Taiwanese into the construction industry? These policies are so out dated that even KMT legislators such as KMT caucus Deputy Secretary-General Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾), KMT caucus secretary-general, Chang Sho-wen (張碩文), and others have spoken out against them. Needless to say, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told reporters that the Executive Yuan’s plan would only offer “short term, meaningless jobs.”

Perhaps related to this is today’s discussion of educational vouchers allowing unemployed graduates to continue training. The educational voucher plan is estimated to reduce by about 100,000 the current 549,000 unemployed in Taiwan. Numerically Ma’s plan should work, in that there would still be plenty of Taiwanese left to manage the 140,000 construction jobs they are also creating.

The clear break with past policy direction is stark. It’s the kind of direction taken in the past by previous ROC presidents, such as Chiang Ching-Kuo (蔣經國). It might also be acceptable in the USA or Canada. But the idea of putting college graduates to work in construction is completely out of line with contemporary Taiwanese thinking. This may indicate a break with past policy that Ma will push through as part of his new ideology. After all, the DPP used education and labour to further their stance on Taiwan sovereignty. This may be a well-thought out position of the KMT. It may be part of their move to integrate Taiwan with China by adopting education and labour policy more compatible with practices in the USA. I suspect this is thinking too much. Ma’s administration has already been criticised as adopting methods unsuitable for democratic control. It is more likely that Ma and his KMT cabinet think such policies are perfectly reasonable for today and that Taiwanese will be glad to have any sort of work thrown at them.

The English Teaching Market in Taiwan

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 7, 2009

This post is not meant to be comprehensive. I’m just trying to give outside readers a description of the different kinds of jobs available here and how they can find out more about them. Some of what I’m about to say I do not know from first hand experience and so I invite more knowledgeable readers to correct me and provide further information. If you want to post the URL of sites that help find jobs, I will permit this for this post.

Buxibans

Buxibans are commercial language schools. They are run either as chain businesses or as individual outlets. Students in this type of school generally register as individuals and can range in age from infant to adult. Some buxibans specialize in a particular age range. The children’s market is the largest of these. If you go back to the 1980s or early 1990s, large chain schools like Kojen and GRAM dealt entirely with adults. These days, very few schools specialize only in adults. In these generalized school, it is not unusual for instructors to teach a wide range of students.

Money in this kind of work generally follows a standard formula: the younger the students, the higher the pay. Depending on the age, a lot of this work involves really bad hours. This means either before school or after school work and may run as late as 10:00 pm.

Legally, foreign teachers are not permitted to teach pre-school children. There are some large chain schools that are able to navigate this issue. Others operate illegally. Generally in this market, teachers are local teachers or overseas Chinese. In fact, it is one end of the market where ethnic Chinese have a hiring edge.

Company Classes

In Taiwan, a large number of companies hold classes for employees. The conditions of these classes vary enormously. Some of them are run as welfare for employees. Some are run as serious training that involves demonstrated performance. Some students pay for all or part of their instruction. Others are paid for entirely by the company. Depending on such factors as ability or the school you work for, company classes could mean instruction of groups of secretaries, salesmen, or even CEOs of major international companies.

The money for company training is generally better than teaching in buxibans, but that’s because it has to be. Much of this teaching involves travel to and from company locations, some of which may be very far away. Generally, classes are short, with the longest ones being 2 hours, and very occasionally 3 hours. It’s difficult to get block hours and teaching a whole day may mean starting at 700 am and finishing at 900 or 1000 pm.

I taught company classes for years, both here and in Japan. I think it’s fantastic work. The people you meet are generally older and very interesting. Most of my Taiwanese friends are former students from this time. The problem with this kind of work is that the hours and the travel do not fit well into family life.

Public and Private Schools

High schools and elementary schools in Taiwan can now hire foreign teachers. Most of these positions are really assistant teachers. This means there will be a local English teacher present in the classroom and you’ll probably just be doing what they tell you to do.

Much of the hiring for these positions is done through agents. Some of these agents work on contract for an individual school and I have heard complaints about these sorts of jobs. On the other hand, friends have been offered jobs like this that were quite satisfactory. At one time, all the school teaching in Taoyuan County was being hired through one single agent. I don’t know if this is still the case. I spoke with them about the positions they were hiring for, and they sounded quite professional.

I have cautioned readers against these positions in Tainan County. I don’t know if they’re still recruiting this way, but I remember reading the same ad in the Taipei Times last year.

Teaching in a school has the obvious advantage of standard working hours and paid holidays. I taught public school in Japan, but have no personal experience in Taiwan. It’s not unusual to be asked to assist with activities outside the classroom. There is also the serious issue of curriculum. Most foreign teachers here will be assisting a local teacher in an institutional setting that follows national curriculum. The claim is that foreign teachers are in Taiwan to develop communicative ability, but this is not really the case. Despite the fact that national high school admissions test English section now contains communicative skills and no grammar, public schools have not modified their teaching methods. As 2 extremely fluent public high school teachers said to me, “We only speak Chinese in class.”

Universities

I’ve written extensively about this elsewhere. I consider work in a university the most realistic option for long-term life in Taiwan. The minimum qualification for these jobs is graduate education from a school approved by the MOE. There is no combination of other qualifications or experience that can be used to make up for this.

International Schools

I know very little about these jobs.

There is a wide range of international schools in Taiwan. The most prestigious of these is the Taipei American School (TAS). I know TAS to be outstanding. I think this is obvious from my post and links describing the school. Strangely some readers appear confused about this. Anyone who doubts I think TAS is excellent should reread the post and links.

I understand TAS pays very well and at least some teachers receive subsidized housing. But not all international schools are TAS. Occasionally, I come across advertisements for foreign teachers at other schools. The advertized wages have not been impressive. These schools will all advertize that applicants need a teacher’s certificate or some similar qualification from their home country. I know this is not true for some of these schools, and they may be willing to hire any native-speaker applicants with a bachelor’s degree.

People I know who have gone on to work at other international schools have described pretty grim teaching situations. The pay was not better than standard university wages and the work is very hard. Some of these schools offer 10-month contracts for the first year. I am not sure if this is legal, but clearly the aim is to give the school the option of firing the individual before the summer holidays if the first year doesn’t work out. In 2001, I was interviewed for a university language center job with a man who was leaving a position at Lincoln American School in Taichung (now American School in Taichung 台中美國學校)). I can only assume it was because the language center job was better. The salary offered by Morrison Christian Academy is considerably lower than market. I suspect the only reason anyone works at most of these schools is for the presumed effect this will have on their resume when they return to their home country.

Test Preparation Schools

Taiwan is inundated with test preparation schools. Most of the tests being prepared for are local tests conducted in Chinese languages. This includes high school admissions tests. I know of no foreign teachers involved in the preparation of junior high school students for the Basic Competency Tests (BC Tests). Even preparation for locally-developed English proficiency tests, such as the GEPT, is dominated by local instructors.

Some number of schools involved in TOEIC, TOEFL, and IELTS preparation do hire foreign teachers. It is this market that offers one of the few commercial opportunities for those with specialized qualification in English teaching. I have several acquaintances who have taught at IELTS preparation schools. One of them holds a DELTA, the other is a certified IELTS examiner. Their jobs are particularly aimed at preparing students for the IELTS and education in Britain or Australia. I suspect that most of the teaching done for TOEFL preparation is done by local teachers.

Overview of Qualifications

To work legally as an English teacher in Taiwan, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from a university that the Taiwan government recognizes. Apparently there is another way to get a work visa using other forms of English teaching certification. I think I know someone who got his visa this way, but even though I have known him for years he has never talked it. This is not something I recommend trying.

English teaching certificates such as CELTA, DELTA, and comparable courses from organizations like TEFL International are not very useful in Taiwan. As I said, it is possible they help otherwise unqualified people to get a work permit. Outside of the very limited market I discussed above, they have little power in helping one get a better job. I understand there was once a company in Taiwan that tried to operate hiring only teachers with Cambridge certificates. They are no longer open. Universities and colleges may consider these to be useful qualifications, but they do not qualify otherwise unqualified people to work in these institutions.

Aside from positions in international schools, teacher qualifications from a foreign nation is not very useful. Employers in Taiwan do not automatically assume such qualifications have better prepared someone to teach here. Universities and colleges can not accept these in the place of graduate education.

By far, the most useful qualification in Taiwan is graduate education and previous teaching experience with similar students.

Money

I haven’t worked in commercial teaching for a long time, so I can only speculate on this. Judging from the number of discussions I’ve seen about stagnating wages and a declining market, I guess that my experience is still accurate.

This is Taiwan. The economy is not nearly as strong as European or North American economies. Wages are a lot lower. On the other hand, taxes are also much, much lower, but then so is government support for pensions and working conditions. My estimate is that wages here are about half of a comparable job in Canada.

Typical wages for inexperienced and unconnected teachers are between $NT600 and $800 an hour. Some people can make a lot more, especially those doing company English teaching. A lot depends on the schedule. If you have block hours or work during the regular day, you can expect to make the low end of the scale. One of things an avid researcher is bound to come across is claims of huge earning power. It’s not unusual to read claims from teachers that they make almost as much as they could make in their home country. This might be true. There is significant earning potential here and some jobs do pay very well. My experience is that it takes a lot of time and development to get yourself in this position. A more likely explanation for extremely high earnings is extremely long working  hours.

More Information

Information about teaching in Taiwan is everywhere. There is so much information that it’s really information overload. Some of what looks like information is really commercial in nature. Usually this is pretty transparent, but readers should be warned.

There are a number of forums that provide useful information for people interested in coming here. I usually read

http://www.forumosa.com

Forumosa is large and many of the people who post on it are very experienced. I know a sizable number of these people personally and I think the forum is a lot of fun and very useful. On the other hand, there are a lot of crazy people living in Taiwan and some of them post on forumosa. But it is a good place to start.

I generally don’t recommend Dave’s ESL Cafe

http://www.eslcafe.com

It’s a good place to look for work, but the Taiwan forum is dominated by a very small group of people, and I generally steer away from it unless I’m looking for gossip.

There are many, many websites that post job information. The only ones I know are Dave’s and

http://www.tealit.com

These are the oldest and the fact that they’ve survived so long says something about their usefulness. Many others have come and gone. Since I’m no longer in that market, I don’t know if there are others that are widely used. If there are any readers with good information about this, let me know.

Other Language Related Work

There is also work available editing and proofreading. Typically, this means work on advertsing and information distributed through commercial companies and government. I have done some of this kind of work for companies where I was teaching English. Some companies have so much of this kind of work they have full-time staff to handle it. More generally, it’s handled by freelancers or as a side business in a larger test prep school or translation house. I know people who have never taught English and instead work for translations houses editing material and writing letters in English.

The shortage of adequate proofreading is one of the impediments facing Taiwanese professors in their quest for international publishing. While many foreign residents have the English skills to do this, they lack the academic knowledge or field knowledge to handle the manuscripts. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see people with strong academic skills unable to do this kind of work because they lack knowledge of proofreading or even the basic English language skills. Some universities, as well as the Academia Sinica, now have budget to pay for this. It is this kind of work being done by Q Book, the English teaching resource site operated by my friend Clyde Warden.

Q Book

I personally find this kind f work very difficult and while I have done lots of it, my philosophy now is that I won’t read any manuscripts that I am not personally interested in reading.

Conclusion

These are my thoughts on the English teaching market. If you have any disagreements, additions, or clarifications to make, please feel free to let me know.

Anaheim University Receives DETC Accreditation

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 7, 2009

Anaheim University has informed me they now have accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). I last wrote about Anaheim back in 2005. It was an unaccredited, on-line university offering graduate degrees in business and TESOL. Despite this, it had affiliation with significant figures in the TESOL world such as David Nunan, Rod Ellis, and Ruth Wajnryb.

David Bracey, who is the school’s Chief Communication Officer, wrote to me describing recent developments at the school.

…our accreditation status has changed and on January 17th, 2009 Anaheim University gained full national accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), an educational accreditation agency founded in 1926 located in Washington, D.C. The DETC is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education as an accreditor of institutions of higher education.

In the past, my blog has featured significant debate about unaccredited degree programs (also see here). At the time, I had seen no convincing evidence of high quality unaccredited degree programs. When I was asked about Anaheim University, to be honest, I was surprised they did not have accreditation. One reader pointed out to me that accreditation often stipulates continued operation for an amount of time, and as such new schools can not get accreditation from authentic accreditation bodies. It appears this was the case with Anaheim.

I’d like to thank Mr. Bracey and Anaheim University for keeping me and my readers informed with their most recent developments. Good luck.

The Examination Yuan under the KMT

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 7, 2009

The Examination Yuan (考試院) is a unique aspect of government in the Republic of China. It’s legal status is on the same level as the Legislative Yuan (立法院) which acts as the legislature and the Executive Yuan (行政院) which acts as the cabinet. You can read the English description of their legal responsibilities here, but basically their job is to supervise the selection and performance of the civil service. The EY is composed of the Ministry of Examination, the Ministry of Civil Service, the Civil Service Protection and Training Commission (公務人員保障暨培訓委員會), and the Supervisory Board of the Public Service Pension Fund (公務人員退休撫卹基金監理委員會)

See here for the organization chart of the Examination Yuan.

I find this extremely interesting. There is an entire ministry that looks after the construction of civil service examinations. One popular interpretation of this is that examination is a tradition construct of Chinese culture. As much as this true, the Ministry of Examinations was only founded in 1948 by the KMT government in Taiwan. While examination may be a cultural construct of the Chinese, examination in Taiwan was constructed by the KMT.

Examination Yuan commissioners and a president are nominated by the office of the President of the ROC. President Ma Ying Jeou (馬英九) has appointed Dr. John Kuan (關中) as EY president and replaced a number of the commissioners of the yuan. The Examination Yuan has been busy at work under the Ma Administration, and I’d like to tell you about some of things they have been addressing.

Incompetent Civil Servants

The Ministry of Civil Service has announced plans to “weed out incompetent civil servants” (also see here). The former KMT party official who is now serving as Minister of Civil Service, Mr. Chang Che-shen (張哲琛), has stated that

Under existing regulations, it is almost impossible to fire a civil servant solely on grounds of incompetence or being unfit. Even if such a government employee is fired, he or she still has many channels for appeal or redress.

While all this sounds great, I can’t help wondering if this is similar to the removal of university faculty that is now being tolerated.

Pregnancy and Evaluation of Female Civil Servants

Another interesting reform that’s being discussed is changes in the current evaluation of civil servants that penalizes women for becoming pregnant. This policy change is being handled along with the Central Personnel Administration (行政院人事行政局) under Minister Dr. Ching-Hsiou Chen (陳清秀). I am a little surprised this situation still exists. One of the major health issues in Taiwan is the declining birth rate. For years, health officials have been discussing this as though it is a moral problem. As far back as 2002, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) was quoted as saying,

Most of the younger generation just don’t want to have babies. We will try to offer certain incentives to encourage the younger generation to have babies

And while women who worked in his ministry (in fact in his office) were penalized for having babies, he was suggesting a $12 billion subsidy for families that would make almost no difference to an individual family.

So I am very happy to see a government finally willing to discuss the provision of equal work opportunities for women employed in government.

A Scandal in the Control Yuan?

There have also been problems. Members of the Control Yuan (監察院) have been accused of improperly taking compensation for the supervision of examinations (also see here). Instantly a flag goes up and residents of Taiwan start thinking this is just another case of corrupt officials. But wait, this really has nothing to do with corruption and, in fact, seems to be one of those jurisdictional problems that continues to plague government here. Apparently, the members in question had reported to the Examination Yuan they were not eligible for the inappropriate payments but the Examination Yuan insisted on paying them anyway. The amounts in question are not very large (NT$30-35,000). The real problem is not whether the KMT will ‘clean up’ these immoral officials, but whether they’re willing to disregard the situation and fix the real issue of who has jurisdiction over the payment.

I would like to see the Examination Yuan dissolved. I believe it is remnant of pre-modern government. It’s unique because it doesn’t work very well. Taiwan can continue to try hammering it into a modern form, but it will never quite fit. On the other hand, it is an historical institution of KMT government developed to incorporate aspects of traditional society into contemporary control. As a result, it’s doubtful we’ll be seeing a Ma Ying-Jeou Administration doing much to effect the authority of the Examination Yuan.

International Comparison of Faculty Salaries

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on February 7, 2009

You may have noticed two additional links I’ve added to Blogs I Read.

The first of these is Higher Education Management Group. The blog is operated by Dr. Keith Hampson, PhD who is the director of E-learning at Ryerson University in Canada and is part of the LinkedIn group with the same name. The second link is to Beerken’s Blog operated by Dr. Eric Beerkens. Both of these blogs are excellent and provide very valuable information for education professionals.

One of the most significant issues to emerge on my blog has been salaries of university faculty in Taiwan. Back in November, Dr. Beerken posted a comparison of academic salaries around the world. I recommend having a look.

Faculty in Taiwan are payed through two different installments. The one most of us are familiar with is the teaching allowance. This includes payment for regularly taught hours and overtime. The second of these is the research allowance. It is this that increases as we are promoted from Assistant to Associate to Full Professor. For comparison purposes, entry-level salaries in Taiwan for Assistant Professors (not including New Year Bonus) begin around 64,000 TWD a month. The Universal Currency Converter tells me this is 1,898.69 USD. A Full Professor with senority would make somewhere around 100,000 TWD, which is 2,966.70 USD. This puts Taiwan faculty salaries amongst the lowest in the world, only slightly above India.

It’s not entirely fair to make this kind of comparison. My contract as a foreign English teacher is identical with faculty contracts offered to local professors. While faculty salaries in Japan are much higher than Taiwan, it is almost impossible for foreign English teachers to find stable, long-term work. Our teaching schedule is also very light. Positions in South Korea for foreign English teachers often include a large number of additional teaching hours during the regular schedule and in the summer. When I taught there (1994-6), we taught on Saturday. I have been told that national universities in Singapore also have a 6-day teaching week.