Educational Inequality in the Age of Competition for World-class Status in Taiwan

Since the government of Taiwan has addressed the need to pursue excellence in quality through building world-class universities in the 2000s, it started to restructure its higher education system through the policies of role differentiation and funding concentration. This development has led to the formulation of a differentiated academic system in which a small number of higher education institutions are selected to be research-oriented, internationally-focused universities that have been assigned to pursue world-class excellence and have received a large amount of research funding. Meanwhile, the majority of the higher education sector is identified to be teaching-oriented and locally-focused, and therefore need to survive in a more competitive environment without sufficient government funding.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the presence of educational inequality caused by the above phenomenon in Taiwan. It argues that the emergence of performativity culture and role differentiation in the internationalised and marketised environment has brought a new form of inequality in Taiwan's higher education, as many universities in lower tiers are underfunded under the current uneven pattern of funding. This means that students in these universities and their families have to bear heavier financial burden of education. This leads to reflections on the development of higher education policy after the accomplishment of massification of higher education coupled with increased privatization in relatively wealthy East Asian societies.