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For the first time in history, more Taiwanese women below the age of 40 (57.2%) than their male counterparts (53.3%) have completed post-secondary education, according to the 2011 statistics on the educational attainment of Taiwanese population released by the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of China (Taiwan). However, women have not yet overtaken men in the postgraduate attainment rate, since the largest quantitative increase was registered at the Bachelor’s level. A faster growth in female postgraduate attainment (350%) as compared to male’s (235%) has been recorded in the past ten years, but the difference between male and female attainment at postgraduate level remains significant in absolute numbers. Only 379 000 Taiwanese women have earned a postgraduate degree by 2011, while 636 000 men have the same level of qualification.
The post-secondary education attainment of the Taiwanese population (aged between 25 and 64) has surpassed the OECD average of 30% already in 2009, when 39% of the Taiwanese reported to have completed post-secondary education, a percentage inferior only to that of North America, Canada, New Zealand, and its Asian neighbour Japan, but higher than many of the European countries. The new attainment rate of 41%, recorded in 2011, has brought the country even closer to the top of the list in post-secondary education attainment by OECD standards.
Despite the impressive attainment rate at post-secondary level, the quality of Taiwanese higher education has been an issue of concern. Very few Taiwanese universities are ranked in global university rankings, which are seen by many as indicators of “quality”. The real quality concern, however, seems to lie on the draining of Taiwan’s best brains to its Asian competitors, mainly because of the over-regulation of the remuneration system and of the work environment in Taiwan (ACA Newsletter - Education Europe, August 2011). Without reforming its higher education system, a continuous increase in the numbers of university students may either strain the Taiwanese higher education further or lead to a booming private sector, a development which would bring additional quality concerns.The China Post (in English) Ministry of Interior of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (in Chinese)