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President Lee Meets with Participants in the International University Presidents Conference

President Lee Teng-hui this afternoon delivered an address on the development of higher education while meeting with the participants in the International University Presidents Conference held in taipei.


The full text of President Lee's adress is as follows:


Secretary-General Ding (of the National Security Council), Deputy Secretary-General Chen (of the Office of the President), President Chen (of National Chengchi University), Vice Education Minister Yang, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:


I am delighted to have this opportunity today to meet with so many distinguished guests who have come to the Republic of China to attend the International University Presidents Conference. First, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to each one of you who has come afar to be with us.


As part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, National Chengchi University has invited the presidents of universities in the ROC and throughout the world to gather here for the development of higher education in the 21st century. I am confident that by sharing views and working together, you will open new doors for attaining the ideal of a global village.


Like many of you, I used to be a university professor. Regrettably, unlike you I had not been made a university president. A university is a cradle for scholastic research, the pursuit of truth, and the preservation of cultural heritage. It is also the most important institution where talent is cultivated for national development. Hence, the development of higher education is given top priority in almost every country of the world. The successful evolution of numerous agrarian societies into industrialized nations following the Second World War can be attributed to the success of educational reform. This same factor also played the key role in the structural reformation of politics, economy and culture in these countries. Particularly, the development of higher education yielded the most far-reaching and extensive benefits. In future, higher education will remain the force to propel countries to meet new challenges, create new culture, and raise national competitiveness.


To cope with the new trends of the 21st century, higher education must comply with contemporary educational philosophy, and must reflect the values of humanism, democracy, diversity, technology and globalism. Humanism dictates that comprehensive education be provided to all, inspire independent thinking, nurture healthy minds, and allow each person to bring his or her potential into full play. Democracy requires that respect be given for educational freedom to create opportunities for choice. Students must be taught to respect others and develop a sense of responsibility to the community, to respect the law and to cultivate the ability to make the right decisions. Diversity emphasizes the appreciation, respect and toleration for different cultural values. Education must meet the needs of each student, so that he or she can build on his or her own foundation to attain the heights of excellence. Technology demands the provision of universal access to scientific and technological knowledge. We must promote scientific spirit and use scientific knowledge to solve problems while infusing students with due respect for life and nature. Globalism requires that education broadens horizons and opens minds so that students learn to respect different cultures and peoples. Students must draw on the positive aspects of their own culture while, at the same time, developing a healthy global consciousness. Only in this way will they come to see and embrace the world as one.


The Republic of China has a proud history of educational development. However,in the face of rapid changes both at home and abroad, reform must keep going if education is to keep pace with practical demands. At the present time, higher education in the ROC faces many of the same challenges common in countries throughout the world: how to achieve a balance between the domestic and the global, between providing equal educational opportunities for all and advanced education for the gifted, between respecting tradition and embracing the future, between richness of diversity and the stability of homogeneity, between individual interests and the standards of society, and between the self-consciousness of professors and the management of the university. In all the higher education systems around the world, these same questions await answers.


Now, a new era for higher education is dawning in the ROC. Priority will be placed on cultivating citizens with global views and teaching students through practical and dynamic education. We must completely recast the academic environment and infuse education with humanistic spirit. Higher education in the ROC should emphasize diversity, excellence, and quality. This new standard will spur the development of the nation and lead society into a new, promising century .


The duration of the International University Presidents Conference is very brief. However, your collective wisdom and experience guarantee that the event will benefit the prospects of higher education in the 21st century. Indeed, I am confident that the many farsighted ideas born at the conference will provide an invaluable reference for ROC as we forge ahead with the reform of higher education. It is also my belief that the conference will contribute significantly to the expansion of academic exchange and cooperation among universities in the ROC and respected institutions in other parts of the world. Through such exchanges, we can all play a role in developing higher education throughout the globe and enhancing the welfare of mankind.


Last but not least, I would like to once again welcome each and every one of you to the Republic of China. You have my best wishes for good health and continued success. Thank you.


Accompanied by Vice Education Minister Yang Kuo-tzu and National Chengchi University President Cheng Ding-wang, participants in the International University Presidents Conference came to the Office of the President for the meeting. Also present were Dr. Ding Mou-shih, secretary-general of the ROC National Security Council, and Mr. Stephen S. F. Chen, deputy secretary-general to the President.

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