Almost every department at National Taiwan University (NTU), the nation’s top academic institution, is dropping the “N” from the school’s initials when it holds joint conferences with Chinese schools or cooperates on academic work, sources said yesterday.
The practice, described as “university-wide,” began more than a year ago, a source at the university told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity, referring to official documents on conferences and panels held with Chinese universities.
According to another academic at the school who was also in a position to see the documents, the removal of the “N” in the university’s official initials — a source of pride for many Taiwanese — applied to “a lot of, if not all departments” involved in exchanges with China. However, it has yet to be determined whether the practice is now official policy at the university or was initiated by department heads or individual academics.
NTU was 87th in this year’s QS World University Rankings.
References to the school as “Taiwan University” began to appear about a year ago, including Peking University’s holding of a “Taiwan University Day” on Dec. 20 last year to “strengthen intercollegiate exchanges and academic co-operations [sic] with our university,” NTU says on its Web site. A special exhibition held in May highlighting the ties between the two universities was titled “Time and space rendezvous between Taiwan University and Peking University.”
A document datelined May 11 on the Peking University Web site refers to NTU as “Taiwan University” and also excises the word “national” from National Chengchi University, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), National Central University and National Cheng Kung University.
NTNU confirmed at a forum on cross-strait affairs in July that it had changed its name in advertisements in an effort to attract more Chinese students. That change, which university officials said was a gesture of “goodwill” toward China, was the removal of “national” from its official title.
In August, a neurobiologist at Peking University made the news after insisting that a Taiwanese team led by neurobiologist Chiang Ann-shyn (江安世) of National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu, which collaborated with Peking University on research, identify the university as being located in “Taiwan, China.”
In addition to the removal of “national” from its official title, there are signs NTU is placing undue emphasis on visiting academics from China at the expense of academics from other countries.
The Web site for NTU’s Institute of Advanced Studies of Humanities and Social Sciences, for example, shows that of the 52 visiting scholars at the institute this year, 46 have been from Chinese universities, with just four from the US and two from Europe.