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More PhDs better than fewer despite talent surplus: minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said yesterday that it is better to keep the number of people obtaining doctorates at around 3,500 people per year rather than worry about a surplus of professional talent, in response to the recent problem of “stray doctors,”or those who don't pursue work in the field in which they obtained doctoral degrees.

In recent years, the “stray doctors” phenomenon has become a social issue. The theoretically based training given in Ph.D. programs takes away from opportunities to gain practical experience. This creates trouble for newly minted doctors who are hunting for jobs. Moreover, most companies are less willing to hire doctors because of the higher standard salaries they expect. However, the number of candidates applying for Ph.D. programs at some of Taiwan's best universities is also decreasing. The National Science Council (NSC, 國科會) pointed out that if the current problem cannot be improved within ten years, Taiwan will face a lack of talent with doctoral degrees.

According to Chiang, there are currently about 50,000 professors at local universities, with about 1,500 to 2,000 positions expected to be filled by new Ph.D. graduates each year. Meanwhile, local industries require about 500 doctoral talents per year, with the requirement facing a possible increase to 1,500 in future.

Approximately 80 percent of Ph.D. graduates are now working in academia, according to Chiang, who indicated his belief that this proportion was too high. Chiang urged local governments to encourage more companies to invest in attracting more doctoral talents to work in business. By doing so, Chiang hopes to solve the issue of “stray doctors.”

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