The misnomer “required elective” at Ming Chuan University (MCU) International College (IC) is the result of limited course offerings each semester.
In fact, the course outlines for IC programmes suggest that “required electives” should be “core electives” from which students should have a choice.
In addition to its “professional required courses”, each major stipulates a minimum number of “core required courses” and “core elective courses” that students must take across several disciplines before graduating.
However, because of staff limitations, only one “core elective” is often offered from a category each semester. This often leaves students with the choice of taking the course or waiting for the next semester, hoping for a desired course.
Dean of the IC, Dr Ellen Chen explained the situation at a meeting of IC administrators and students in January.
“I need to admit that we don’t have enough courses for you to choose from, and therefore it become(s) required. But you can always wait and take it next year. Perhaps we need to work harder to offer more courses. I will suggest (that) our directors … come (up with) a clearer map of the courses.”
Dr Chen apologized for the situation, and, responding to a student’s concern about having to take an elective to maintain full-time-student status, added:
“We will pay attention to this and will try our best to offer enough electives. So you won’t have to be worried about maintaining your status of being a full-time student.”
Dr Chan Lee – President of MCU, Dean of Student Affairs Division, C. Walter Wang – Chair of Journalism & Mass Communication Programme, Dr. Mariah Tu – Chair of International Business & Management Programme and other faculty and staff members also attended the meeting.
It was the first of its kind at the six-year-old college.
Dr Chen told students that an undergraduate education is “actually general education” hence the reason they take some courses that seem not to be directly related to their programmes.
MCU President: ‘many good teachers they don’t want to teach in IC’
Students were also concerned about the English language ability of some IC teachers.
“It’s really goes pass accent or articulation. Even their ability to write sentences on their PowerPoint that we understand or … clearly communicate their ideas, and their ability to understand our sentence structure,” one student explained.
Dr. Chen asked students to identify to administrators teachers whose language ability is not up to par.
She also said that the IC has discussed “how to improve our teachers’ quality through screening and workshop”.
New faculty members, she said, “are (also) required to observe other more experienced teachers”.
“I tell you the truth, many good teachers they don’t want to teach in IC,” Dr Lee said. “For them, teaching in Mandarin is easier and Taiwanese students are more patient,” he added.
Students also raised concerns about why physical education is a required course and the disciplines taught during the physical education classes.
Dr Chen said that most universities in Taiwan have physical education classes, which is required and with no credit. She said the purpose of the class is to build team spirit, promote fitness and create opportunities for interaction.
One graduate student who graduated from MCUIC said that the IC needs to readjust its focus.
“From what I observed from last 6 years, the foundation of education system is focus on quantity more than quality. It seems like our school is very quick on recruiting students, but once we arrive, the school is not fully prepared for the students. We need things from the beginning, the foundation, so that the same mistake won’t repeat every year. … Why (do) we recruit students so quickly when this university is not fully prepared for those students?” she said.
MCU President Lee at the beginning of the meeting assured students that the university was concerned about their education and well-being.
He said the university considered its students as members of “our big family, so we will do anything we can to help you”.
He further said MCUIC was well on its ways to becoming an American university.
“In the future, if you have any suggestion, you just write to me, write to the president’s mailbox. If you think nobody pays attention to you, I will and help you solve your problem…. If you have any questions, please let me know. Nothing is more important than you, the students…The education of youth took 100 years and we only have several years. But we are getting better and better. Let us know if you think any teacher is disqualified. But you must reasonably think things over.”
Students also asked about course content, transfer of credit from other institutions, changing majors, electives, dorm housing, and, among other things, facilities at the Jihe campus.