The Chinese characters for the word “taiwan” mean “terraced bay” or “beach.” Taiwan became a protectorate of the Chinese Empire in 1206 when Genghis Khan founded the Yuan dynasty.
Taiwan (the Republic of China) consists of the main island of 13,808 square miles, the Pescadores Isles, and a scattering of 64 tiny islands. Located between the Formosa Strait and the Philippine Sea, the main island is 244 miles long and 60 to 90 miles wide, about the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.
The Republic of China was founded in 1912 by Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, whose "three principles" were nationalism, democracy, and the livelihood of the people. Even though the central government launched a new 6-3-3-4 education system in 1922, it was not until after World War II that education became widely accessible.
The 1947 Constitution (Chapter 13, Section 5, Articles 158-169) deals with issues regarding education and cultural needs. Nine years of education (six years of primary school and three years of junior high school) became compulsory in 1968. Attendance is 99.7 percent (2002 data). In 1990, an official act of Parliament guaranteed three additional years of free secondary education, for a total of 12 years of primary, junior and senior secondary schools.
Although English textbooks are used in many departments, the language of instruction is Chinese. Some classes are taught in English by visiting foreign professors. Most secondary and post-secondary institutions will issue an official or original academic transcript in English, using a 1-100 grading scale. Letter grade equivalencies are also provided.
Responsibility for education in Taiwan is divided between the Ministry of Education (MOE) in the central government, and Bureaus of Education in the municipal governments. The Ministry of Education: (a) is in charge of nationwide education, culture and educational administration; (b) is responsible for determining standards and accreditation for colleges and universities; and, (c) has authority to suspend and nullify local administrative executive orders and to discipline municipal heads of education.
Bureaus of Education: (a) are responsible for curriculum and (b) social education; (c) supervise projects operated by educational and academic institutions; (d) plan and manage libraries, museums, public stadiums, and gymnasiums; and, (e) are responsible for other educational administrative affairs.
Elementary and Secondary Education: Elementary and secondary education follow a 6-3-3 pattern; that is six years of elementary education, three years of junior high school and three years of senior high school. After completion of Junior High School, students follow one of three tracks: Senior High School, Senior Vocational High School or Junior College. Senior High School and Senior Vocational High School require an additional three years of study. Those entering a Junior College after Junior High School study for an additional five years: the first three years are at the secondary level and lead to high school graduation; the final two years lead to Junior College graduation and then either to job placement or transfer to the third year of a four-year university program. Please see the glossary and Advice to Admissions Officers and Placement Recommendations for more detailed information.
Secondary, Technical and Vocational Education, and Higher Education: Secondary, Technical and Vocational Education, and Higher Education are under the following three departments, respectively, all of which report to the Ministry of Education: the Secondary Education Department (SECED); the Higher Education Division (HED); and the Technological and Vocational Education Department (TVE). The SECED and HED both offer bachelor's degrees at selected institutions, and the TVE offers secondary programs (which lead to the Certificate of Graduation from Senior High School or the Certificate of Graduation from Senior Vocational High School).
From 1986-2001, a major reorganization of teacher training and vocational and technical education was undertaken. In 1986, training for elementary school teachers was removed from the junior colleges and placed at the bachelor's level degree beginning
in 1989. Most junior colleges were upgraded into four-year institutes of technology; some were subsequently upgraded to universities of technology. However, even as these new institutions have added upper-division bachelor's degree programs, they continue to offer both two- and five-year junior college programs. Colleges and universities under the HED are also allowed to offer upper-division bachelor's degree programs.
From 1998 to 2002, the number of junior colleges decreased from 53 to 15. But, by 2002 there were 59 institutes of technology and 11 TVE universities of technology (or universities of science and technology) "to develop a higher-level personnel for the fields of technology, engineering and management." TVE institutions emphasize programs in agriculture, industry, business management, home economics, maritime and fishery technology, nursing and medication technology, arts and design, and humanities. At least 10 different joint annual entrance examinations are offered to vocational school graduates who wish to enter TVE programs at the postsecondary level.
Undergraduate Education: After completion of Senior High School, students may enter a Junior College, Teacher's College, Military College, University, Normal University, Institute of Technology, or University of Technology. All students were previously required to take the Joint University Entrance Exam (JUEE). In 2002, the New System of Diversified University Admissions was introduced. This is often translated as the Diversified College Enrollment Scheme (former JUEE). In this scheme, there are two routes of admission: Admission via Recommendation and Admission via Examination. The Admission via Examination covers Subject Competency Tests based on senior middle school curriculum and the Designated Subject Examinations. A wide array of bachelor's and professional-level programs are offered. Please see the glossary for descriptions of these various institutions and for further information.
Access to undergraduate education is also available via supplemental and continuing education programs and at the Open University.
Supplemental and Continuing Education: Supplemental and Continuing Education is offered at six levels: adult basic education, primary and junior high supplemental education, senior vocational high school, junior college, and university continuing education. Students may earn a bachelor's degree in the university continuing education program; there is no time limit for degree completion via continuing education.
The Open University provides advanced and continuing education through audio-visual mass communication media.Students may either audit or officially register for courses. Officially registered students must be at least 20 years of age and must have passed an entrance exam. Officially registered students who met program requirements can earn a Bachelor degree. For those wishing to merely audit classes, no minimum prerequisite education level is required.
Graduate Education: For information about Master's and Ph.D. programs, please see Advice to Admissions Officers and Placement Recommendations.