A Message from Dr. Yeong-Chyan Wu, President of Shih Hsin University
Mission and Vision
Since its founding in 1956, Shih Hsin University has adhered to its mission of offering an education that aims to cultivating students’ intellectual capacity and moral integrity through a curriculum that integrates theory and practice. This vision has carried the school through various stages, evolving from a vocational high school, to a community college and currently to a university composed of the colleges of communications, management, and the humanities and the social sciences as well as a law school. In the last six decades, the seventy thousand alumni have shined in different walks of life. In rising to the changing and challenging circumstances faced by institutions of higher education in the 21st century, Shih Hsin University’s new vision is to create a liberal and humanistic environment that excels in teaching, research and provides its students with a well-rounded education in professional competence and international outlook. In the last ten consecutive years SHU has been awarded a teaching excellence university status by the Ministry of Education.
In my twenty-one-year service with the university, I have witnessed the progress and prosperity of the school under the astute stewardships of Dr. Chia-lin Cheng, Dr. Paul Tzung-tsann Mu, and Dr. Ting-ming Lai. The challenges that lie ahead of me are global competition in higher education, the decline in Taiwan’s birthrate vis-à-vis an oversupply of university enrollment opportunities, and the straitened resources faced by private universities.
Implementing a theory and practice approach to education
Following Dr. Chia-lin Cheng’s vision, SHU continues to provide a hands-on and practical approach to instruction of students to give them a head start in their professional careers. A 2012 survey conducted by the prestigious Commonwealth magazine listed SHU as the most outstanding university in the field of media and communications by parents and industry managers. An assessment of the university’s resources and strengths convinces me that SHU’s goal is to strive for being a teaching excellence university rather than one that is research-oriented. With this in mind, it is imperative that SHU should expand beyond its hallmark disciplines of media and communications and branch into other fields to enhance its competitiveness.
Communications courses as SHU’s core curriculum
Founded as a vocational school for journalism, SHU has a history and reputation rooted in media education. Since its elevation to a university, media research and studies remain pivotal to its curriculum design. This is unique among all the private universities in Taiwan and has won the approval of parents and business owners. The appeal has spread to China as the enrollment of short-term and degree-seeking Chinese students increased from 213 in 2009 to 1313 in 2014, with 65% of them choosing media-related areas as their concentration. In response to this demand, the university has undergone curriculum reforms, creating interdisciplinary modules such as Financial Reporting as well as Innovation and Communication in the College of Management; Humanities and Communication as well as Internet Content Creation in the College of Humanities; and Digital Confluence and the Law in the law school. This list is being extended to science, health, and cultural creativity and communications.
Providing benefits and incentives to maintain a distinguished faculty
A strong faculty is essential to the research and development of a university. SHU has been able to recruit outstanding teachers through a host of measures such as supporting teachers for advanced studies, reducing teaching hours, instituting flexible pay scales, and multi-channel hiring practices. In 2013, 89% of the faculty were assistant professors and above. Due to the inequality in the allocation of resources and the disparity in social status accorded to state-run and private university professors in Taiwan, our university inevitably suffered from brain drain in the past. SHU is currently providing incentives such as extra funding and increased pension reserves for recipients of research and teaching excellence awards as well as chair professors to retain our distinguished faculty.
Increasing the enrollment of students from Southeast Asia and China
The impact of the plummeting birthrate on higher education in Taiwan continues to be acute in the next fifteen years. A demographic statistic published by the Ministry of Interior Affairs reveals that the number of eighteen-year-olds in 2013 was approximately 320,000. In 2016, the number will drop sharply to 270,000 and will continue to decline by 50,000 every six years. The projection for 2028 is 170,000 students, which is half of the current level and an alarmingly low number. In the face of this challenge, many private universities have turned to China and Southeast Asian countries as a source of students. In an effort to address this crisis, in 2013 SHU enrolled 178 degree- seeking overseas Chinese students, 150 international students, and 75 regular and 1,182 short-term Chinese students. Their tuition accounted for 10% the university’s revenue. The matriculation of these students also reflects the popularity and recognition of SHU in these regions.
Enhancing the administrative efficiency of SHU
The university is an organic body, with the administration providing the vital services on campus. SHU has greatly enhanced its administrative capability through the upgrading of human resources, the introduction of electronic document systems, easily accessible information networks, and intensified auditing and internal control. The university will further enhance its efficiency through the implementation of a standardized operation system, a more consensual decision-making mechanism, well-defined division of labor, and a joint-service platform. At the core of a university’s administrative success are the collaborative efforts of its staff.
SHU is squarely on course to realize its vision for the future.