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May 27, 2017

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Yet another higher-education institute in under-enrollment crisis

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A college in Yilan County has seen serious under-enrollment for the coming semester, sparking speculation that it may fold.

The Lan Yang Institute of Technology has only been able to enroll little than 100 students for the coming fall semester, and is having to borrow from banks to fund the paychecks for its staff until the new students pay their tuition fees, according to the United Evening News.

Its principal, Lin Chiang-lung, has confirmed that enrollment this year has not been "ideal," but it is common among colleges to rely on borrowings to fund the paychecks during the winter and summer breaks.

The revelation of the Toucheng-based college's financial woes comes on the heels of another college's decision to cease operations.

The Yung Ta Institute of Technology and Commerce in Pingtung on Thursday announced its closure, becoming the second higher-education institution to shutter this year following the Kao Fong College of Digital Contents, also in the southern county.

Lan Yang's staff and students are deeply worried that their school may become the third in a much anticipated wave of college closures resulting from sharp drops in the nation's student population and imbalanced higher-education policy.

Lin said he had been seeking to have Lan Yang merge with Fo Guang University over the past years since becoming principal.

But Lan Yang's board of directors eventually called off the plan despite both sides having almost reached an agreement.

A Fo Guang official was cited by the United Evening News saying that both schools had already made plans for a two-stage merger but Lan Yang jammed on the brakes earlier this year.

The paper speculated that the abrupt end to the merger deal might have resulted from concerns over ownership of the school's land. If Lan Yang had to be disbanded, all of its land — with an estimated value of NT$2 billion — would be seized by the government.

The paper cited an unnamed teacher of Lan Yang as claiming that the board of directors has been bracing for losses and expects the Education Ministry to come to its rescue in four year's time.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said Yung Ta's wish to transform itself into a junior college might not materialize, judging from its present financial difficulties.

The school will be given three years to carry out the transformation, but if it fails, the school will have to be liquidated, the ministry said.

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