Following the condensed version of this review of CICT (Columbia International College Taiwan) will be specific examples of things that happened at CICT. The original group of teachers had 3 pages of incidents compiled in bullet point form after just the first 5 months at this ‘school’. Written here is just a portion of the points in an elaborated form, split into two parts by importance. I believe it’s important to provide these so you get a better picture of what this institution is like (please refer to them if you need elaboration on the point form). If you are seriously considering working at CICT I really hope that you take the time to read everything.
Where to begin…
I’ll start by saying that all the things in this post are either 100% fact or if I was not at the scene, cross confirmed with multiple reliable sources. Nothing unreliable will be written here.
A small (but not tiny) proportion of the students are truly amazing.
A large proportion of the students are great
Teachers get to attend excursions with the kids for free
Other trivial miscellaneous items
Sexual assault of student not followed up on despite teachers repeatedly requesting it.
Physical assault of teacher due to negligence of school (another teacher on campus at the time had to hide in the school bathroom out of fear for personal safety, dean resigned because of threats to personal safety)
Unacceptable working conditions as well as poor facilities and location
Teachers and other staff treated poorly and not respected
Chairman constantly lies and is immoral
School’s top priorities are: money and reputation. Education is not up there.
Lack of communication, structure and organization
Not a legitimate school (teacher was rushed out and hidden during labor union inspection. Not legally recognized as a high school by the government, no nurse’s office etc.)
Ridiculous workload considering pay (note: summer not paid)
Students are charged over 40,000CAD a year for this circus of a school
A small proportion of students are rich, spoilt, disrespectful and very badly behaved, but allowed to stay at CICT because they are a revenue stream.
On a personal note, this is hands down THE worst work experience I’ve had in my life (by miles), probably the worst experience of my life so far, period. When I read previous posts about CICT I thought they sounded too personal/emotional and not as objective or professional/detached as an unbiased review should be. This was the reason why I initially believed the school when they told us that what was written about them is false. After working at CICT I now understand why it’s so hard to stay professional/detached reviewing an institution like this. It takes so much restraint to even call it that, an institution. Instead of another much less respectful term that CICT deserves. There’s been teachers who started smoking and teachers who started drinking because of the outrageous treatment of staff and students, lies and stress. When I met new people in Taiwan I couldn’t bring myself to tell them where I worked because I don’t want them to send their children to CICT or to work at CICT. Every teacher has thrown away their 4 boxes of CICT business cards as well as discarded or left behind their CICT shirt. This was my first time in Taiwan and this experience has ruined Taiwan for me.
If nothing else, if any of this review seems like it’s just a displeased ex-employee spewing anecdotal evidence, believe this following metric. The school has a 7 teacher team (excluding the chairman’s daughter who’s also a teacher). From mid August 2015 until end of April 2016, within the short span of 8.5 months, 10 teachers have either left or been fired. A turnover rate of over 140%, the academic year isn’t even over yet. Not to mention deans, counselors, assistants and other staff that have left. Number’s don’t lie, and these numbers are cold hard facts.
They told us last year’s cohort of teachers (of which 0 remained at CICT by the way, an almost as impressive 100% turnover) were liars and what they were saying about the school wasn’t true. That’s probably what they’ll tell you too. Ask yourself which is more likely, they’re just the most unlucky school in that they keep hiring complaining, irresponsible liar teachers OR the consistently poor reviews of this school are all true.
School/chairman constantly lies to parents, teachers and students
CICT is advertised as a legitimate high school to both parents and teachers when in reality it’s actually a buxiban (cram school) or a ‘class’, of Hanyin high school. Hanyin, being the actual government recognized school that the chairman owns. CICT is NOT a legally accredited high school (when students transfer out of CICT all they receive is Hanyin credits, credits that do not match the courses they took at CICT).
On all of our ARCs (alien resident certificate, your legal documentation) it says employed by Columbia private short term english cram school NOT Columbia International College Taiwan (something you might want to note when passing through customs if the officer decides to ask where you work/which company hired you)
One teacher was pulled during their class and rushed out of CICT to be hidden during a labor department inspection, time cards were also hidden for the duration.
Sexual assault of a female student was not dealt with or addressed despite the entire teaching team bringing up the issue multiple times at teacher meetings.
Teacher was assaulted physically due to negligence on the school’s end.
Took the school almost 4 months to replace a teacher fired in October, in the meantime classes were covered partly by a rotating selection of Taiwanese staff who only spoke Chinese.
(chairman explained to students saying that drama was free, not included in tuition to begin with)
After a new teacher was fired 2 weeks in during the second semester, the school just hired a Taiwanese teacher to teach precalculus in Chinese instead. (guess precalculus was free too)
There is no communication laterally, vertically or otherwise (e.g. ^said Taiwanese teacher was not informed of exam week, stumbled into his would be class confused as hell. Students were all of a sudden moved into teacher dorms halfway through first semester with no notice to teachers).
Non-existent discipline system, when students misbehave and severely hinder classroom progress, disrespect the teacher or upset other students, they end up leaving the counsellor’s office scot-free after jokes and laughs with the counselor. (a student has flipped their food tray, thrown chairs around in front of Taiwanese staff and others have straight up cussed at their teacher during class)
Teachers were asked collectively for students to expel, many overdue, valid suggestions were provided. None were expelled or even suspended.
No first aid station or nurse on campus, students have to wait around bleeding for someone to be free to drive them to a hospital/clinic.
Multiple colleagues told by the chairman’s daughter to lie on their way in at customs and say they’re coming to taiwan for a vacation. (perhaps something shady with the visa application)
One camp leader reeked of alcohol, fell over multiple times while he hosted an event, students complained about his smell and seeing him smoke. Same camp leader had students in his room behind closed doors on multiple occasions. Still stuck around for about a month after teachers brought it up before being ‘fired’ (transferred to Hanyin, reappeared months later at CICT)
Grade 11s taught grade 12 electives so they retake the same course at CIC, artificially boosting their grades. This is so CICT is more marketable with an impressive looking alumni university list. Grade 11s end up skipping grade 11 electives altogether making them inadequately prepared for the grade 12 courses and university. The artificial boost may get them into university but CICT does not keep track of dropout rates because CICT doesn’t care what happens to its students after they get into university.
Teachers are constantly told to just teach and not worry about the business side of things (including when we mention the school admitting special needs students despite having no support structure or IEPs in place)
There are zero resources, literally the only thing the school provides you with is a textbook (in some cases a photocopy of a textbook), nothing else.
Attendance lists consistently wrong, incorrect student list, no ordering of any sort (homework completion lists different order, report cards yet another different order).
The shortest time between last day of exams and due date for all marked exams as well as report cards and grades was a span of 1 full working day. (Last day of exam on Thursday, report cards + grades due on Monday, you have to teach on Friday too)
Students charged over 40,000CAD a year (including the mandatory summer month at CIC) for a school with no academic infrastructure, no equipment etc.
Students HATE the chairman, the school and how it's run, as well as how much of a money grab it is, attitude problems spill over into the classroom. (Many students transferring out because CICT is too much)
Tried to withhold holiday pay from teachers leaving, saying that holiday pay is for a 10 month contract but leaving teachers only completed 5 (contract does not stipulate contingency of holiday pay on completion of contract). School said if teachers were to stay an extra month, they could receive full holiday pay (presumably because parent teacher meeting is at the end of the month and they already had 71% teacher turnover at the time, didn’t want that number to hit 100 before the meeting)
Colleagues were prematurely evicted by the school for no good reason and as a result their belongings were thrown away, the school denies all responsibility (pushing all responsibility on the guard, school refused to compensate anything) and ultimately claim (after much flip flopping) that security camera footage of the incident is inaccessible even by them.
Teacher didn’t get their ARC OR healthcare care card until 2.5 months after their arrival.
Female teacher’s dorm had no heating, took about 2 months to install after being requested for (winters are deceptively cold and teacher couldn’t sleep properly).
Half day advance notice regarding cancellation of class because the chairman decided the entirety of CICT was to be cheerleaders for the Hanyin basketball team for a day.
Random camps throughout the year use up about ¼ to ⅓ of classrooms and teachers are expected to adjust and accommodate them. Camp kids super noisy and living in teacher dorms. Teachers also expected to teach camps during extra week you’re forced to stay after first semester ends (students gone, report cards finished)
Required to plan for next semester’s courses during said week when who’s teaching what was still up in the air. One teacher found out their final course list changed 3 days before second semester started (during vacation, no textbooks provided for new courses).
The school’s report card writing program that was supposed to be finished by October 2015 is still not functioning, despite the fact that every single month when report card writing approaches, school says it’ll be done by next time. (some teachers have over 100 comments to write every month)
Monthly exams and report cards (exams you have to make from scratch). You’ll work 50-60 hour weeks easy (works out to be around $13CAD - $15/hr pre tax, $10-$12 post)
0 days paid sick leave when we first arrived (instant half salary starting first day you’re sick), 5 days paid vacation initially.
You are each other’s substitute teachers (no extra pay, no upper limit on how many times you have to cover)
Summer not paid.
Random (unannounced to teachers) assemblies that cut into class and tutorial time.
Students forced to help promote school, any expenses incurred during, paid by students.
Told that this is an all English school/learning environment, all announcements to students made in Chinese. No effort to make them in English even though there are fully capable bilingual staff.
Drilling INSIDE of classroom DURING class on the 1st day of second semester despite 3 weeks of no classes for them to furnish.
Chairman believes that women should obtain their man’s approval before drinking beer
Some dorm rooms were not cleaned (filthy) when teachers were told to move into them.
Non functioning dryer (cycled through about 4 or 5 second hand ones before they found a second hand one that worked semi consistently)
No swimming pool or track
Leaky roofs, exposed electrical sockets, doors coming out of door frames, collapsing rusty desks.
Internet in school consistently poor and frequently unavailable.
School is VERY remotely located. Closest TOWN is about 3km away
To quote a colleague,‘it’s a family business, and it’s a poorly run one’. Do not work for this 'school'.