TAIPEI (CNA) – The government should provide long-term support for Taiwanese universities in order to boost the competitiveness of the country’s higher education institutions, a National Taiwan University (NTU, 台灣大學) professor said Monday.

With fewer graduate and doctoral students, NTU has dropped again in this year’s 2017 Nature index for academic institutions, from 98 in 2016, to 148 in 2017. The index compiles its rankings based on the number of high-quality research papers from 500 universities in the previous year.

Lee Fang-jen (李芳仁), head of NTU’s Office of Research and Development, explained that to achieve high academic rankings, research output is crucial, which means that the more graduate students and professors conducting research at a university, the higher that university will probably be ranked.

Currently, there is a decline in students doing research beyond the undergraduate level, so naturally, the quality and quantity of research have dropped, he continued.

While Lee maintained that the Nature index is limited because the publishing group only looks at articles in its own publications, he asserted that his university’s ranking would go up if it received more funding.

NTU has room to improve to increase the quality of its research, but it also needs the long-term support of the government, Lee concluded.

NTU is the highest-ranking Taiwanese university in the index, followed by National Tsing Hua University at 199, National Chiao Tung University at 280, National Cheng Kung University at 431, National Central University at 438, and National Taiwan Normal University at 448. 

By Phoenix Hsu and Kuan-lin Liu