In today's flattened world, competition for talent is bound to intensify by the day. The strength of universities is a useful gauge of national competitiveness. It explains why many countries have spared no funds and taken other bold moves to upgrade the quality of their higher education. To prevail in this arena, Taiwan initiated the Aim for the Top University and Excellent Research Center Project in 2006. Later renamed the Aim for the Top University Project, it is to be implemented in two phases: from 2006 to 2010 and from 2011 to 2016 respectively. With a US$300 million outlay a year, it is meant to further sharpen Taiwan's competitive edge by giving the country's higher education an extra push.
Classify of Universities
Over the course of four years, subsidy recipients in this project have registered tremendous progress in teaching, research, internationalization and collaboration with industry. During this period, emphasis was placed on ushering the outside world into campuses and boosting the number of first-rate instructors and international students.
Meanwhile, top-tier universities covered in the subsidy project fulfilled their responsibility of helping take care of less fortunate youngsters by ensuring their access to higher education. Likewise, they made available a wide range of interdisciplinary and general courses, fully aware of the lasting influence that general studies will have on students over their lifetime.
According to the 2011 research output rankings of Essential Science Indicators (ESI), National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, National Cheng Kung University, National Chiao Tung University and National Chung Hsing University were ranked among the top one percent of the world's research institutions in 17 of 21 specialized fields of study. Meanwhile, at least one university from Taiwan was ranked among the world's top 100 in the following 11 fields: computer science, engineering, materials sciences, environment/ecology, chemistry, clinical medicine, pharmacology & toxicology, physics, geosciences, plant and zoology sciences and agricultural sciences.
Additionally, Taiwan's universities have seen a big jump in their global rankings over the years. By pushing ahead on charts of this sort, higher education institutions in Taiwan make it clear that theirs is an international benchmark. They are keenly aware that their bar of excellence is ultimately a global rather than regional one.
Phase II (2011 April-2016 March): Aim for the Top University
Building on what has been achieved in Phase I, the project is meant to further help recipient universities attain the goal of topping the world. In addition to assisting local universities in resources integration and upgrade of teaching and research competence, special emphasis is to be placed on fostering closer cooperation with esteemed international counterparts and broadening the world outlook of students and instructors alike. Meanwhile, guidance is to be extended to universities for them to better meet the needs of the local industry by turning themselves into an R&D hub that excels in both academic research and practical applications. Last but not least, top-tier universities will be called upon to help recruit and cultivate leaders for the future so that Taiwan can be justifiably recognized as a land inhabited by global citizens who have a well-rounded world outlook and the capacity to pursue self-improvement constantly. The ultimate goal is to make possible the world's best universities in Taiwan with an unwavering dedication to the pursuit of excellence in both teaching and research.