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Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 12:22:36 +0000
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From: Marilyn Levine, H-Asia <>
Subject: H-Asia: Stanford Center in Taiwan Update [Long Message]
To: Multiple recipients of list H-ASIA <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

From: Ruth Mostern <>

The ongoing struggle to save IUP/ICLP

From Ruth Mostern, UC Berkeley, 29 November 1997

Letter from Fan Meiyun

Dear Friends,

Recent days have seen much happen in the ongoing struggle to save IUP/ICLP.

Many letters coming in from overseas, from professors, students, and others, in support of the center, for which we thank you greatly. These letters are being sent on to various relevant offices within the government.

Additionally, the host of major-long magazine program on one of Taiwan's three main television stations did a feature on the center, interviewing the director, several professors and a number of current and former students, some of the latter of whom now work in prominent (mostly communication) positions in Taiwan's government. The several-hour shoot with the station crew (here at the center) started out a little tense, but the journalist genuinely listened, and seemed quite impressed by the level of the students. The same station had previously done a feature on the crisis at Normal University, in which the foreign students were not made to look very good, so we were somewhat concerned. The segment turned out, in the end, to be very positive. It is significant that it is aired now, as all of Taiwan is in the throes of this year's elections, which take place this week, 27 November (Of course, the story got a little buried, as it aired in the same week as the year-long quest for Taiwan's two remaining sinsiter kidnapper-murderers finally came to an end, with the suicide of one and the sensational arrest of the other.)

In the above report, we finally are beginning to see the Stanford Center distinguished from the other language training schools here, which focus mainly on lower-level students, have open-enrollment, and large classes. What we need to is to convince the government of the uniqueness of this center, as the only place in Taiwan for truly advanced students of Mandarin to study.

For those of you concerned about the situation at Normal University's Mandarin Training Center, the professors of the center took the school to court for unfair treatment. Without apology or explanation, the Center's director, Luo Qingzhe, whom many professors and students hold personally responsible for the havoc there, resigned.

In response to the crisis there, the Political Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cheng Jianren, was quoted, in the English-language China News, as follows:

I think these two programs [Mandarin Training Center and the Stanford Center/ICLP] are good programs. They have been in existence for a number of years. They have trained a lot of foreign students and have proved to be quite successful. And when students move to other jobs, they certainly have been helpful in letting other people know about our country.

I think we should try to handle it in such a way that they continue, not only continue but [also act as] an attraction for foreign students. They have been so positive in the minds of so many of us and so many foreign friends.

[China News] 9 November, 1997

In addition, Director-General Cai Bihuang of the Guomindang's Department of Cultural Affairs criticized the Minister of Education for being too narrow minded-too little globally-minded-for, among other things, cutting the funding of the Stanford Center.

In order to better make you aware of how the situation is being portrayed in the press here, we have translated/summarized several key articles from various papers. As these make clear, the Ministry of Education seems wholly unaware of the distinctiveness of this center. We perceive this as the fulcrum of our struggle. If we can convince the Ministry of the uniqueness and importance of the Stanford Center, they may well come to see that its continued existence-moreover, the continuation of its unique teaching methods-are of great value to Taiwan.

I hope this helps to answer many of the questions that you have asked me, and to fill in the details of what may seem a confusing situation. I apologize that I have not yet had time to answer each of you individually. I am in the middle of moving, and in the middle of the first quarter here. As it is, I am only able to provide you with this packet because of the help of one of the current, second-year students.

Your continued support in the coming months will be most appreciative. We have, as noted, received a number of letters of support. The more we receive, the better our chances of restoring our funding.

Thank you,
Fan Meiyuan

Press reports

United China News, Lianhe Bao, 28 October 1997

Foreign students who have come to Taiwan to study Mandarin say that, in the absence of government subsidies, they will go to Beijing.

National Taiwan University's dean of Humanities, Lin Yaofu, asserts that, though IUP has opened a new center at Beijing's Qinghua University, there is no intention of closing the Taipei center; but that, should the Ministry of Education indeed cut its NT$8 million (roughly US$270,000) funding , the center and NTU a very difficult situation.

Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Center's director, Luo Qingzhe, says that, since the University instituted a new service fund system this term, it was necessary to adjust the fees of foreign students, and to limit their access to school facilities. As a result, he says, rumors are circulating that the center is going to close and that it will be converted into a business school.

A group of foreign students took out an ad in the China Post saying, We may be young now, but in the future we will be taking positions in diplomacy and international trade. If Taiwan continues to be indifferent toward Mandarin training, we will in future go to Beijing, and as a result build relation on the Mainland and not Taiwan.

Lin notes that the Stanford Center has been at NTU for more than 30 years. In the beginning, perhaps because of the then close relations between the US and the ROC governments, NTU offered free space to the center. But a few years ago, NTU, its reputation now well established in the world, established a cooperative relationship with IUP, in which the teaching materials and curricula would be provided by IUP, but both IUP and NTU would participate in student recruitment. At the same time,

When the 1994 contract was signed, Lin recalls, IUP already was thinking of moving to Beijing's Qinghua University. In 1996, it was decided that a new center would be opened in Beijing, while maintaining the Taipei center. He guesses that American schools have an interest in establishing closer relations in the Mainland, and that the orthodoxy of the spoken Mandarin in Beijing is also a factor.

[NOTE: It is worth note that according to the director of IUB Beijing when she was still at the Taipei IUP, the decision to move to Beijing was only made when NTU had refused to offer more than a three-year lease and a search for adequate and affordable space elsewhere in Taipei was unsuccessful.]

The Stanford Center staff and facilities are now under the direct management of NTU. Dean Lin does not comprehend why, after more than 30 years of supporting the Stanford Center, when it was run by foreign universities, now that NTU itself is directly managing it, the Ministry of Education is deciding to cut its funding.

United China News, 28 October, 1997

Minister of Education, Wu Jing , asserts that he hopes to stimulate foreigners to continue to come to Taiwan to study, and recognizes the importance of such contact to build solid and lasting foreign relations. And romanization yet, he continues, the Education Ministry faces a tightening of resources. Continued support for the Stanford Center next year, he suggested, will depend upon funding from Taiwan enterprises.

Other staff at the Ministry of Education spoke more candidly of the Ministry's view on foreign students. Because the cost of living is lower in Mainland China, and schools there have dormitories they can offer students; because the Mandarin spoken there is more orthodox , and because pinyin is commonly used, students are increasing choosing to go there to study Mandarin.

A spokesperson of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that AIT staff received their Mandarin training at the Chinese Language and Area Studies Center on Yangmingshan. Thus, AIT will not be affected should the Ministry of Education's decide to cut funding for foreigners studying in Taiwan.

[NOTE: This last report seems odd, given that last year when a new director was sent to take over a scandal-ridden AIT, much was made of the fact that he knew Taiwan well, having studied Mandarin here for several years (at Normal University).

Liberty Times, Ziyou Shibao, 28 October 1997

Because of downsizing at Taiwan Normal University's Mandarin Training Center, dozens of foreign students of Mandarin face course closures and may be unable to continue their studies at the center. Addressing this matter, the Ministry of Education's International Humanities Studies division said that that school had a responsibility to reach an agreement with the students to place them in courses in other language study centers.

Excluding the Stanford Center, there are nine such centers in the Taipei area, the Ministry pointed out. If the downsizing of the Mandarin Training Center leads to a crisis, then students should be enrolled in these other centers.

As to the situation of the Stanford Center, the director of the Ministry's Bureau of International Cultural and Education Relations, Zhang Menglin ,said that the Stanford Center only gets about 50 students a year, but that the Ministry has been supporting the school since 1970 with total funding to date amounting to more than NT$100 million (roughly US$3.3 million). He suggests that the Center alter its organizational structure or come fully under the auspices of NTU. The Ministry, he said, woul fully cease its funding of the Center, choosing instead to disperse the funds in scholarships to attract foreign students to other area instituions.

[NOTE: In fact, such scholarships are already in place, under the Ministry's Jiang Jingguo Scholarship, which already distributes funds that far exceed the current funding of the Stanford Center. ]

Central Daily News, Zhongyang Ribao, 29 October 1997

The director of the Ministry of Education's Bureau of International Cultural and Education Relations, Zhang Menglin , says that the Stanford Center is not at all going to close, but that it is to become a division of National Taiwan University (NTU). Further, starting in fiscal year 1999 [i.e., 1998], the Ministry of Education would cease all funding support of the center, in order to prevent unequal treatment in regards to the nine other centers of Mandarin Training in the Taipei area.

Director Zhang explained that IUP was established in 1963 by Stanford, Cornell and nine other American universities, to send students to Taiwan to learn Mandarin. Throughout that time, though operating within NTU, it was not a division of the University.

Since the inception of IUP, Director Zhang went on, the Ministry of Education, because of diplomatic and cultural exchange needs, have supported the program financially. But since Taiwan already has nine other universities with Mandarin language training centers, all operating without government subsidies, and considering the huge expense of the ongoing curriculum changes in the national school system, the Ministry of Education decided to cease its funding of the center as of next year, additionally recommending that the center come fully within the administration of NTU which has expressed no intention of closing it.

Director Zhang also stressed that the Stanford Center has in fact already moved to Beijing's Qinghua, and that as a result there will be changes in the types of students coming to the center. Already, he said, Filipino students have gone through this center in order to come to Taiwan to study. Furthermore, he went on, the number of students coming to the center is decreasing, to only 30 to 50 students. Thus, it is entirely fitting and proper that the Ministry cease its funding. [NOTE: There has been no drop-off in enrollment in recent years. Indeed, the number of students this year, the first year following the move to Beijing, actually exceeds last year.]

The International Humanities Studies division points out that, in 1996-97, 5,431 foreign students came to Taiwan, of which 4,713 enrolled in language programs. Those numbers have not reduced in 1997-98. Thus, Stanford Center's coming under the auspices of NTU is not likely to affect the number of foreign students coming to Taiwan.

Liberty Times, 28 October 1997

The director of the Ministry of Education's Bureau of International Cultural and Education Relations, Zhang Menglin , says that the Stanford Center is not closing, but becoming a division of National Taiwan University (NTU). As of next July, the Ministry will however end the subsidy it has given the center for more than 20 years.

In response to an ad taken out by foreign students, proclaiming that if the funding stops they will have to go to Beijing, director Zhang said that the funding was ceasing because, as a result of several years of changes, the funding was no longer necessary. The Ministry hopes that foreign students will come to Taiwan to study at any of the nine other language training centers.

The Stanford Center was set up in 1963 by ten American universities, including Stanford and Harvard. But once NTU came to be independently operated, it opposed allowing a foreign university department to have unrestricted access to classrooms on the NTU campus, thus causing the Stanford Center to set up facilities at Beijing's Qinghua University.

Letter from ICLI Director

In regards to reports today in several papers of this center and the Ministry of Education's Bureau of International Cultural and Education Relations, there are several points that call for clarification. An article in the 29 October issue of Untied Daily News reports that the Ministry of Education officials believe that since many foreign students would rather go to Beijing to study, why should the Ministry continue to give subsidies? There is a problem of logic here, in fact, if the Ministry gives subsidies, those who receive the subsidies must be foreign students who come to Taiwan to study Mandarin. If they are worried that students who come here to study Mandarin later proceed to Mainland China to continue their studies, thus wasting our national resources, this type of worry is also unnecessary. According to our experience, most students who have studied on both sides of the Strait feel that the training in Taiwan far exceeds that in Mainland China. It is in our interest, and to our advantage, that foreign students have experience both in Taiwan and in Mainland China. This is far preferable to students only going to the Mainland and, because of the cessation of subsidy, not coming here at all.

The Central Daily News of 29 October quotes the division's director Zhang Menglin: Once the center has moved to Beijing, the types of students who will come will change. No longer are they all from American universities: there are even Filipino students who have gone through this center to study. Besides displaying a grotesque bigotry, this assertion is also wrong. In this, the first year of the move to Beijing, the only foreign students are three Japanese, two of whom applied through American universities. [For the record, though of course Filipino students are welcome, none to date has attended the Stanford Center.]

The 29 October issue of Central Daily News, Liberty Times, and the Independence Morning Post (Zili Zaobao,) all cite Zhang's assertion that, since we only have 30 to 50 students a year, the Ministry doesn't need to contiune to subsidize this center. We wish to clarify that this center's students are few because we only accept higg-level Mandarin students. Those who are able to meet this standard are already very few. When one adds on that our teaching method involves very small classes and is thus incapable of teaching large numbers of students at the same time. As a result, our annual enrollment has always been quite small. This center's admissions standards are very selective. The students are very selective. The student must apply some six months prior to the beginning of classes and is assessed for adimissions based upon the student's past performance at his/her home university, an assessment of his/her Mandarin capabilities (by a previous Mardarin instructor), three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose written by the student. The students are submitted during class to rigorous critique. Most students at the center come from top-name American universities. With the exception of an eight-week wummer session, formal students are required to study for a minimum of three quarters (from early October to mid-June, or a total of nine months). This can hardly be compared with the standard at other Mandarin training centers in Taiwan, with their three-month sessions, year-round open admission, and predominance in beginning students. Our students may be few, but very many are Ph.D.candidates or have been accepted into graduate school.

Once the subsidy stops, we will be forced to change our standards, to modify our system to come into alignment, as the Ministry suggests, with Taiwan's other Mandarin training centers. This will no doubt leave high-level students with no option but to go to the Qinghua center, which will be a great loss to Taiwan. We hope that the government will consider this carefully before acting.

Lu Guangcheng
Director, ICLP

China Post report, 29 October 1997

The following is a report in the English-language newspaper, China Post, in response to a letter of protest in Mandarin signed by 23 ICLP students and submitted as paid advertising in Liberty Times.

Disappointed by a government move to slash funding for Mandarin-language instruction to foreign students, several foreign students have threatened to leave for Beijing to pursue their studies.

Foreign students in Taipei protest that the government's decision to cut funding would have devastating effects of Taipei's efforts aimed at boosting its international profile. They said the cut would only drive away foreign students of Mandarin, who are the best witnesses of the much-touted Taiwan experience.

In a faxed statement co-signed by 23 students at the Stanford Center, the government here was blasted for not doing its part to keep up with the mainland's progress in Mandarin education.

It said Beijing had set up a Cabinet-level task force to oversee the training of Mandarin instructors-many of whom hold master's of Ph.D. degrees. Many of these teachers are sent abroad of compile and revise improved teaching materials, it said.

But in Taipei, universities do not hire full-time faulty specialized in teaching the Chinese language to non-native speakers. Meanwhile, another prestigious institution, National Taiwan Normal University's Mandarin Training Center, also faces major budget cuts.