What's the point of working at a university in Taiwan?

For sometime now I’ve been thinking of moving to Taiwan from the UK to work at a university. I hold a Ph.d and have some solid research behind me, but I’m in two-minds about making this big leap. Currently I’m unemployed and receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefits, which total £1200 per month.(At current exchange rates that equals around $NT59,345.) From what I can gather after checking these forums I’d get roughly about the same teaching at a university in Taiwan. If this is right, I’d actually be a lot worse off moving to Taiwan because I’d have to pay tax and possibly insurance, along with a hefty rent if I’m living in the capital city. Why do university jobs pay so poorly in Taiwan? How can they attract academic stars if there is no carrot? Just wondering?

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What makes you think they want to attract academic stars?

Taiwanese universities value the cooperative, not the outstanding. The team player. The foreigner who says with a big smile on his face, “Sure, I’d love to judge yet another inane speech contest for no extra pay. In fact, a Friday night would be ideal if there’s no way to schedule it to take up all of Saturday.”


You’re right blockhead, there’s no point, especially for a star like you. Might as stay home and keep living off welfare. Besides they all talk funny in Taiwan and eat strange foods.

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:roflmao: :roflmao: :roflmao:

Thanks for the responses, albeit quite unhelpful. As you gathered I’m currently unemployed so I’m looking around for other opportunities. I’ve met Taiwanese students and some of them suggest I go to Taiwan to teach. I seriously thought about doing this, until I checked the salaries. However, the money isn’t everything and I’m at a bit of a loose end right now. I could go to the Middle East, but I’ve always had an interest in Chinese culture. The reason I’m here is to get some serious feedback from people teaching in a university as to whether it’s worth uprooting and flying across the world to a place that is completely unknown to me. Only sound advice, please.

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Dude, if you’re out of work and you’ve always had an interest in Chinese culture, then get your ass over here. Yes the money sucks, but people don’t move to Taiwan to get rich. They move here because they’ve always had an interest in Chinese culture. Or because they’re out of work and don’t know what to do with themselves. Or because they want to get out of the lousy little rut they’re in, living in the same damned town, talking to the same damned people, doing the same damned things and going nowhere, while life is passing them by. Or because they want to check out all the hot Taiwanese women, eat different foods, learn Chinese, explore a new culture, enjoy a beautiful new land and move on to an interesting new phase in their life full of new options, experiences and opportunities. Money is nothing. If you’re hung up on money maybe you should go to Dubai and work for some sultan or sheik or whatever. But if you’re really interested in Chinese culture then get your ass over here. If you have no job, so much the more reason. There’s no reason to hesitate (other than senseless fear). Besides, everything’s cheap over here, so even with the low salaries you’ll probably save more than you ever did back home. I did. So just do it. Don’t waffle. Don’t hem and haw. Buy your Lonely Planet, pack your bags and get over here.

Incidentally, don’t use your PhD and research as an excuse to continue hanging out where you’re hanging out doing nothing. I worked as a lawyer for 10 years before coming here, with no job lined up. I brought a pile of resumes, one suit, one pair of dress shoes, and promptly landed a job teaching kindergarten. I’ve moved on since then and have no regrets at all. I’d guess that more than 90% of the people who move here to work are glad they did it.

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Or go to China. You will be treated like a God, the univ. will give you a decent accommodation no electricity bills etc. etc. but if I were you I would live on welfare with my degree, and spend a whole lotta time pondering about the places I can go work but don’t really want to. Ofcourse someone with a shred of decency,would find work immediately and then look for greener pastures.

That’s pretty harsh. The OP isn’t being a jerk, nor are his questions stupid ones.

You have to remember 1200 quid isn’t the same as 1200 quid back home. You could save half of that quite easily if you were single and not sacrificing too much. Also you get 4 months paid annual leave, I don’t think many places back home could give you that.

Actually, I’m not a man, I’m a woman. Just wanted to clear that up.

Claiming benefits in the UK I hope will not be long term. Welfare was always designed to be a bridge to work, and I hope that’s what it’ll be for me. Times are tough in the UK for teachers with the austerity measures and cuts coming online soon. The University and Colleges Union(UCU) estimate that 15,000 jobs will be lost in the HE sector over the next year. So enough of the stupid wisecracks.

Although I said that money isn’t everything, it is important. What I really want to know is can I make a go of it financially in Taiwan? I’m no spring chicken and would hope that I can do more than just ‘survive’. As far as I know, very few universities in Taiwan pay more than 65K per month. Is it possible to live comfortably on this? I’m just a little confused because I get almost this on benefits in the UK and live fairly comfortably if I don’t go out much and shop at Tesco’s. Of course I want to work, but there just isn’t much around in the UK, which is why I’m here trying to get some advice/info about moving out to Asia. It seems that Korea maybe a better option?

On 65,000NTD you’ll have to pay 6% tax (although for your first year here this may be up to 20% and you claim the difference back the following year - depending on what time of the year you arrive). With a phd you can get an associate professor level type of position which I think goes up to 80k, but I think realistically you’ll only get a 65k English instructor position being new and stuff.

The way to think about it is what sort of additional work you can land when you’re only teaching 16 hours a week in a uni and get 3 months off every year. Extra teaching gigs, high paying private classes to rich kids (‘oooohhh, my Engrish teechur has phd!’), exam marking, essay proofing… Seriously, anyone with a positive attitude and a good work ethic should easily pull 90k+ a month in Taiwan no trouble. On top of this the cost of living is way lower than the UK.

Good luck! And, just to add my unhelpful flippant comment, it’s little wonder that the UK is going down the pan if they’re handing out twelve hundred quid a month to people. :smiley:

If you’re interested in Chinese culture then DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT come to Taiwan. Sure they look Chinese, and speak Chinese, and in a lot of ways act Chinese, but this aint China. I’ve lived in China, and I’ve lived in Taiwan, and I can tell you there is precious little Chinese culture here. It’s full of shops, and modern stuff, all of which can be obtained in the UK. You will not find anything Chinese here, such as calligraphy, temples, buildings, music, clothing, nothing, not a thingy dingy.

If you move to China however you can see people practising Taiji in the local parks every morning, there are usually 1 or 2 nice temples to visit in just about every city, you can buy Chinese style artwork, clothing, read ancient books such as “三国演义” easily, and do all of the Chinese things you like. I have been here for two weeks, and been to all the major shopping districts in 台中, and I have yet to see anything that I would call Chinese. I haven’t seen a single tea shop. I even tried to get my buddhist style bracelet repaired here, (something which can be extremely easily in China), and it took me a long time to find anywhere that could do it, not only that I had to wait 3 days to get it done, and it cost me twice as much as it would in China, not only that in China they would do it right then and there when I walk in the store, it would take about 5 minutes and it would be finished, and they do a better job.

If you want Chinese culture go to China. Honestly, to find any Chinese culture (at least here in 台中), you have to look really, really hard for it. I even tried to find 布鞋 here (meishichina.com/Physique/Hea … 47792.html), and no luck. I thought like you before I came here, that it would be a rich environment for Chinese culture, but it’s really not, and the reason is because Taiwanese people DO NOT want to be called Chinese. As the girl I’m seeing keeps saying to me, “we look Chinese, but we are not Chinese”.

20% is a lot! Thanks for that info, it is useful. BTW, I don’t really want to run around teaching privates or working at other schools because I really expect to be able to survive on the income from the university. Is it legal to work for other schools if you have a primary sponsor? I know it’s highly illegal in Korea.

But isn’t the 3-month summer holiday period used for research? It’s not JUST a holiday, right? You’re still being paid to produce something.

Yes, a most unhelpful comment. You’ve gotta be American? Remember: In the UK, and much of Western Europe, National Insurance is deducted from our salaries and re-distributed in the form of benefits. It’s our money, actually. And I can tell you that £1200 isn’t a lot of money to live on in the UK, especially in a city like London where rents are so expensive. As I noted earlier, I live fairly well because I’m single and I don’t have any debt. But thank the Lord for benefits: They’re a lifeline in times of need.

I also did a PhD, but didn’t finish it, and I would say that the primary motivating factor for me working anywhere is research interest. Which universities are researching the same field that you are interested in? Wouldn’t that be the over riding factor, as I said, you aren’t going to find much in the way of Chinese culture here.

No, the issue is really getting a job. Ideally I’d like to work at a university in the UK, but jobs are hard to come by and you really need to know people on the inside. If you don’t, you haven’t got a chance.

And you think that’s not true in Taiwan? I would also say that if you want to work as a researcher at the University you will not be granted a work permit (probably), as an English teacher, jobs are going to be even harder to get. There is a limit to how many full time foreigners any university can employ, and it’s 1 for every 10 people. Right now there are very few job vacancies opening up in Uni’s, at least as far as I’m aware. I got a verbal offer for part time work at the local university here, but they wouldn’t get me a work permit, so no joy.

Yes, you’re right. I’m sure things are competitive there too. I’ve heard that most universities in Taiwan are moving towards more research and a Ph.d is the norm. I’m qualified, but it’d still be difficult to break in because I don’t live there and haven’t done the networking. At this stage, I’m just getting more info about the different places and then I’ll make a decision. One thing I have noticed is that Taiwanese universities rarely advertise at dave’s esl cafe, whereas there seems to be more university posts advertised in Korea. I’m really starting to think that Korea would be the better option. Japan could be a goer, but I think I’d be too old for them. I’ve heard they practice ageism.

you won’t get a faculty position as a science researcher here unless you can demonstrate research leadership and pull in grant money. You would most likely not want to get a job as a post-doc and live on an appallingly low salary and be expected to put in 70 hour weeks glued to the lab bench.

Some unis actively discriminate against those that can’t speak Chinese (subtly, by things like lack of administrative support, rather than overtly, though they may claim to value the ability to teach in English).

if you do get a work permit and a job, side-jobs are definitely illegal. And where would you get the time? Mind you, you would soon become the de facto editing service for the department, school, or university, so you would at least be getting experience in a valuable transportable skill.

but there IS Chinese culture here, despite what ninman states, much of it substantially more genuine than the ersatz recreations of post-Cultural Revolution China. It doesn’t stand out because it’s not signposted as such, because it’s part and parcel of everyday life.

if you’re not into science but literature or something, then you will probably find it even harder to get a job…

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What is your PhD in? That will make a difference; British PhDs in some form of English or Linguistics can probably get a job at any university with an English department in this country. Note that many of those universities are new, should probably have never been founded in the first place, and may not be here a decade hence. More and more universities are trying to have “courses in English” across many departments, but I’m not sure how common that really is.

I teach at a university and generally quite enjoy it. In Taiwan, the salary is decent and you can live reasonably well on it. My wife and I get to Canada once a year and usually go somewhere else in Chinese New Year. And as others have said, there are basically four months paid vacation.

The salary can quite easily go over 65,000 or so if you want to teach overtime classes, at your own university or others. Per hour those rates aren’t that good (700-800NT), BUT they’re reliable, and you can’t get that from private students. Note as well that there’s a New Year bonus that will be six weeks salary (well, not during your first year).

One last point on salary: as I’ve said, in Taiwan, it’s a good amount of money - but it does worry me A LOT that I’m not accummulating as much in the bank as my friends in Canada.

My job (instructor in an English Language & Literature department) involves very little research or publishing; I’m almost entirely a teacher, mainly handling ESL-style stuff (conversation, composition, presentations). I’m also usually fortunate at my current school because there aren’t many additional requirements, although I’ve dealt with long speech contests in the past at other schools.

The teaching emphasis suits me fine but it may not suit you. One reason I’ve wound up here is that Taiwan doesn’t have quite the same publish or perish mentality (or as a foreigner I dodge it). You can do the research and get published, and there are perks for doing so, but I get the impression those perks aren’t that significant. (I may be wrong.)

Universities differ a lot. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve enjoyed all the ones I’ve worked at (I’ve been at three now, and each change has been for a lifestyle “step up”, rather than a desire for a better job: moving to cities I preferred, or to lessen my commute). However, I’ve heard of horror shows elsewhere - required to be at your desk in a big open office 9 hours a day, five days a week, for example.

“Easily make over 90,000+ a month”… I’m not so sure about that. I guess you have to be more of a networker than I am to be easily in that range.

Hmm… I hadn’t read the second page of comments when I wrote the above. It sounds like getting uni jobs is harder than it used to be; I’ve been here a long while, so I’ve got a decent resume of courses taught built up. I’ve never actually SEEN the advertisements for any job I’ve got - they’ve all been through word of mouth/ luck. Networking, I suppose, although that chat in the pub sure didn’t feel like networking at the time.

On Chinese culture: bollocks. There’s lots of it here. Just be careful of all the Tai Chi guys in the park because half of them are waving swords. I don’t know WHAT that mayor’s been doing down in Taichung if the temples are all gone. They’re not as common in Taipei as they are in Tainan, but they’re still all over the place.

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I’m enjoying this but wow is it straying away from the original topic.

This seems to happen a lot to newer people who post questions! The poor folks find themselves embroiled in arguments they didn’t expect at all. To the OP, honestly, if you arrive in Taiwan you’ll find that most conversations are much more restrained and, er, relevant than this.

Fixed it. Too moderate by half.