Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Several technical universities and vocational colleges in Taiwan have registered low enrollment rates for the 2015-2016 school year, with four departments failing to sign up a single new student, according to Ministry of Education statistics released Friday.
The statistics, which focused on technical and vocational colleges, confirmed that their enrollment has been hurt by Taiwan's declining birth rates and fertility rates over the past two decades.
They have also suffered from rapid growth in the number of higher education institutions in the country during the same period, which was driven by changes in regulations in 1996 that allowed allow vocation-oriented junior colleges to be upgraded to institutes and universities of technology.
To reverse the phenomenon of too many universities chasing too few students, the Ministry of Education announced a plan to push universities and colleges with low enrollments to merge or close, and the figures released Friday confirmed the need for consolidation.
Among the departments of technical and vocational colleges and universities in Taiwan, 67 had enrollment rates below 30 percent for the 2015-2016 school year. Most of them were in schools in central and southern Taiwan.
Four departments failed to attract any new students, according to the ministry's figures.
One of them was the Department of Microelectronics Engineering at National Kaohsiung Marine University, which offers a two-year program for graduates of five-year junior colleges.
The director of the department Chong Kwok-keung acknowledged that enrollment was low but said the ministry's figures omitted some new students who were taking classes in the department.
He also stressed that departments will not be merged and courses will not be eliminated, despite the low student numbers.
The two-year programs offered by Taipei College of Maritime Technology's Department of Digital Game and Animation Design and Department of Marine Leisure and Tourism also had zero enrollment, as did the four-year program of Chung Chou University of Science and Technology's Department of Electrical Engineering.
(By C.C. Chen and Lillian Lin)enditem/ls