Executive Vice President for Academics and Research Tei-Wei Kuo says, "The logic of taking care of business is to first decide which business ought to be done and then determine how to do it." This coming semester, NTU will continue to promote interdisciplinary learning and strengthen students' core abilities while emphasizing talent development for internationalization and pursuing academic cooperation and exchanges with partner universities.
Among the university's major business matters in the area of academics will be the promotion of "second specializations." This is intended to encourage students to step out of their departments so as to expand their professional knowledge in interdisciplinary fields. As they pursue specialized skills, students must not overlook the importance of cultivating core abilities. To address these needs, the Office of Academic Affairs offers training in composition and in basic computer and Internet skills.
Moreover, as language skills are the basic requirement for internationalization, students who have set their sights on the world beyond Taiwan must dedicate themselves to developing their Mandarin and foreign language skills. These days, we spend our lives connected to our computers and smartphones. This has created greater opportunities that in turn require correspondingly broader skill sets. NTU encourages students to develop their computer skills, and provides a range of courses pertaining to computers and information technology. Subjects covered in these courses include programming languages, front-end and back-end web design, and languages for data analytics.
As for research, NTU aims to provide an outstanding and well-established research environment for students and faculty members, as well as to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation, boost synergy between academia and industry, and support the nation's industrial development. Currently, we are also planning and promoting interdisciplinary and cross-generational research cooperation in hopes of igniting new sparks of innovation. Meanwhile, the university also offers scholarships for students who meet the requirements for exemptions from qualifying examinations for Master's and PhD programs. These scholarships encourage students who intend to pursue careers in academia, and help optimize the campus's research environment.
Still, Executive Vice President Kuo remains deeply concerned about such potential worries as brain drain and difficulties in hiring young faculty members to face the field of higher education in Taiwan. Citing NTU as an example, Kuo points out that more than half of the university's faculty members have already reached the age of 50, and the problem of low salaries has severely impacted the university's ability to hire and retain quality faculty members. Moreover, because university faculty members are often over 35 years old when they are hired, there are fears that the government's annuity reforms will deliver yet another major blow to higher education and leave those employed in this field facing increasingly grim prospects. Taiwan should confront this problem head on; otherwise, we will find ourselves in a position in which we have research funds but no qualified people to put them to use, which will profoundly impact our capacity to cultivate talented professionals in Taiwan as well as support the nation's future industrial development.