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

Inscrutable. Anyway, whoever it was that said we’ve strayed off topic is correct. The OP wanted to know if it makes sense for an unemployed PhD (my prof used to call them Post Hole Diggers) in London who has always been interested in Chinese culture to move to Taiwan. Hell yea it makes sense, particularly if she apparently has no immediate hopes of finding work in the UK and is single and feeling like chucking it all and moving across the world to start over, which she apparently is as she mentioned moving to the Middle East or Korea. Hell yea. It’s a terrific, eye-opening, mind-expanding, liberating experience to get the hell out of ones boring little rut and move across the world to experience things in a completely new way. It will completely transform your life, almost certainly for the better. If you’re single and laid off that’s the perfect time to do it.

blockhead: Have you traveled in Asia before? Have you lived outside of the UK? If not, then don’t hesitate a moment. Just start making your preparations. Sure, there’s a lot to worry about at first. How will I do this? How will I find that? What if I can’t ____? But if you come to Asia and live here for a while you will see, do, eat, experience and learn things your boring friends back home can’t even imagine, you will gain invaluable new insights into yourself and the world, and it’s entirely possible you will find a whole new area of career possibilities infinitely richer and more satisfying than the narrow window of opportunities you envisioned from the rut you used to live in. It’s true for me and I expect it is for almost everyone on this forum.

Taiwan’s a terrific place. Like so many others here, I came over expecting to stay for a year or two and now it’s been 10 years, I’ve picked up a wife, child, house, terrific career, and I can’t imagine myself returning “back home” till retirement, especially with my home country and home state being totally bankrupt, and now that I’ve learned my way around here and settled in.

Sure it’s a valid question to ask what kind of jobs are available here for a person with your degree. As someone noted, you’ll need to tell us the field of your Pile it Higher and Deeper. But understand that Taiwan is a highly developed, wealthy modern nation ( :wink: ) full of opportunities of all kinds. I’m sure people teaching in uni here are mostly perfectly content and the money is totally satisfactory (at least as much so as “back home”). Things are cheap here, it’s easy to save money, life is good. It’s true that you may be stepping off the western career ladder somewhat (although you’re off it already), but it should be perfectly possible to continue researching, publishing, teaching, etc., so that you’re not burning bridges at all but are instead opening new doors. Chiayo.

ninman, blockhead doesn’t need to see people doing Taiji and she definitely doesn’t need to have her Buddhist-styled bracelet fixed. She’s looking for a place where she can make a decent living and a life for herself. The nice thing about Taiwan, especially Taipei, is that you get the local culture (tea shops and markets everywhere), but also any western crap you need. Over a ten year period in Taiwan, I’ve only met one person who preferred living in China over Taiwan.

blockhead, a sincere question: what kind of university position are you looking for?

I ask because I think that most foreigners at unis are teaching English conversation to freshmen. That’s what I’m doing. It’s a nice gig - with the holidays and all and ample time to do take on extra classes for extra pay through the university itself. And it’s not a big strain to take home some pre-submission articles for editing. Remember that most of your 20% tax - which is only taken off for six months, I think (somebody can correct me here if I’m wrong) - will come back to you.

I don’t know anybody teaching at a varsity in a position other than a English teaching job, and I’d imagine those positions are damn hard to come by. My university gives us the perks - paid holidays (about 4 months) being the best - and doesn’t expect us to do research over the vacation period. We’re a little different from the other lecturers as they need us for the English program and we don’t have to do research, but there are also avenues for it (English teaching conferences, etc.).

I’m happy in my job, but not all unis work as mine does. We have a fixed syllabus, a time-tested system, and decent colleagues.

So blockhead, advice to you in the form of questions:
Are you up for teaching English?
Do you want the experience of being in a different country?
(Taiwan is safe and relatively friendly.) You’ll meet some cool people from this forum and off of it. And some uncool ones, too.

You do have difficulties in finding a position, because you need to be interviewed over here. But your Doctorate places you in a good position and my university - at least - loves to have women on board.

I don’t know much about teaching in other countries, but I personally rule Korea out because of their conservatism and homophobia and - off course - because thy think kimchi is the best thing ever. I rule out China, because their tour groups that wander through Taiwan piss me of horribly (uncouth, loud, disrespectful).

A question to everybody else: Does anybody know of teaching positions at universities held by foreigners where they are not teaching English conversation? What are the possibilities?

Anyway, blockhead, good luck. I know you are in a place where you are trying to decide what’s the best for you. And it’s difficult weighing up options and countries. Wish I could give better advice in your thinking time. I think Taiwan’s nice.

There are at least a few foreign scientist professors around, although I don’t know any of the details about their positions (except for one, who is a true academic star, does only research, and was lured over here with a salary much much much higher than 60,000 NT. So if they want the stars, that’s how they get them).
If you are looking for a non-english instructor type of position, it probably won’t be easy, but it’s worth a try. I know that my university is trying hard to become more international, but I don’t know how far that attitude goes in overcoming obstacles like language and work permits. If you really want to go the research route, you could also have a look at Academia Sinica.
I definitely sympathize with you, the academic job market is tough. I’m doing a postdoc and am now seriously looking for faculty jobs, and it’s scary. Universities have not been hiring for the past few years, so now there’s a huge glut of recent Ph.Ds out there looking… :s

Oh, and there is plenty of Chinese culture in Taiwan. Actually, Taiwan seems to have all of the good parts of Chinese culture (temples, tea shops, etc), without a lot of the crappy parts (smoking and spitting everywhere, etc).

There’s been a lot of irrelevant chatter here and Ninman bashing. Can we get back on track and leave poor old Ninman alone. After all he is entitled to his own opinion, and that opinion is what reflects his experience, so leave him alone.

Now, getting to the point: headhoncho, you say that coming to Taiwan to teach at a university is a waste of time. Are you a professor? If so, it’d be so helpful if you could elaborate. Please tell me why it’s a waste of time. I need something concrete. For example, I’m not even sure where to find a job? There seem to be a lot of recruitment agencies, but most of them are recruiting teachers for language schools, and I’m definitely not interested in that. I invested a lot of time, money, and anxiety in my education, so I want a return. If possible I want to teach and do research and reside in a serious academic environment, where people really care about what they’re doing. The good thing about Korea is that there ARE jobs out there and those jobs are advertised online and it is very clear what the contract stipulates. Taiwan, on the contrary, appears far more elusive. Where are the jobs? And what do they offer?

In the UK cuts are coming, so things are only going to get worse. Already there is talk of a brain-drain because funds available for research are drying up. Profs in the UK are living in a constant state of apprehension, worrying when the axe will fall on their heads. It fell on mine, and now I’m on the Dole. Thus, I’m not interested in philosophical conversations about Chinese culture, but the practicalities of getting a good job abroad and making a decent living. As an academic, my CV is important. Gaps need to be explained, so I really do need continuous employment and that employment should be with prestigious institutions if possible.

Again, only advice that is relevant and informative is valuable to me.

It would be really useful if you told us what your PhD is in.

That said, what I said above…

My Ph.d is in English Literature.

Seeing as you are such a special little sunbeam, we’ll all pull together and try to be more on-topic in future.

Aw shucks, Jimipresley has a crush on blockhead already. :smiley:

I take back my helpful and useful comments. If you’re bothered by irrelevant chatter please stay in the UK.

Yep, the poster name “blockhead” is rather apt, is it not amigos?

You need to pull your head in, or should that be “out.” Behave yourself and we may - after a probationary period - put you in charge of the forumosa bookclub.

You are going to be unhappy and disappointed if you come to Taiwan. Stay home or go to Korea where they “have clearly stipulated what is on offer.” :roflmao: :roflmao:

An assistant professor makes around NT$75,000 per month. That’s about US$2,500 per month. Taiwan has a huge surplus of PhDs and a declining number of students that will lead to university closures soon, so almost all the ‘real’ jobs go to Taiwanese people and can speak the language of instruction (Mandarin).

You don’t see ads for academic positions in Taiwan because Taiwanese universities aren’t planning on hiring foreigners except maybe to teach English.

Taiwanese universities are not prestigious and you are unlikely to find “a serious academic environment, where people really care about what they’re doing.” Even if you did, you don’t speak the language, so how will you participate?

Having said that, I have known several foreigners teaching at Taiwanese universities in both language teaching and academic positions who are very happy with it for a number of different reasons but not yours.

Then my advice definitely rings true:

  1. For money - Head to the Middle East, Dubai etc
  2. For the fun of it, experience, exploring the culture etc, get yourself over here. You’ll definitely get something good, and even if it’s not Uni, it’s work and you may just like it. While you’re here you can network and try and find something more to your liking.

I agree with Feiren. The OP would be miserable here.

Can’t say I disagree, but if you’re on the dole and you want to work, you may try one of the many options available to you. If you’re a Brit with a PhD in English Lit, there are countless options available in the Middle east, SE Asia and Far East Asia. For that matter, you could even cast the net as wide as North America (she says she’s well published…), South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Then again, why not even as far a field as South America.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d prefer anything (even if only for a year or two) than sitting on my butt collecting a government cheque/social security (not knocking it, just saying that’s what I’d do)…
Personally, I’d rather be making less than the dole in Argentina, having a great time and gaining some interesting experiences along the way, than sitting back in old Blightey on the dole. But that’s just me. :idunno:

Besides, don’t you get more unemployable the older you get and the longer you’re out of the loop (losing valuable work experience), than if you just up stakes and go do something in the industry (directly or indirectly) somewhere else?

Thanks for that, Feiren. That is really useful info. In fact, I just found some info online about the falling birth rates there and the situation does look critical:


Fewer students mean fewer universities. That’s a no-brainer. It really does look bleak. Maybe my Taiwanese friends were just being polite when they suggested I go and teach there? Or maybe they too are ignorant of these worrying demographic trends? Anyway, I’m gonna go off now and do more research and see what I come up with. The salary you quote, NT$75,000, is better than the equivalent dole handouts, but it doesn’t take into account the tax, insurance, and rent that I’ll need to pay. For the time being, I think I’ll stay put. At least if I’m in the UK I can get to an interview . . . that’s if I’m fortunate enough to get one?

Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program is good and inexpensive. Out of a salary of NT$75,000 per month you’d probably have to pay about NT$1,200 for this. Taxes are relatively low – other than that big 18% bite, which can be avoided in the long run by spending more than half the calendar year in Taiwan. Rent varies widely, depending on city and neighborhood.

But, yeah, the demographics point to lots of the relatively new private universities not lasting long.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing… :2cents:

Nevermind the chatter, this is Forumosa, I’ve been around this forum for much longer than I’ve even been registered, and the lively discussions are - in my opinion - the best part of the forum but they do tend to be a little fast paced and bounce around, just enjoy the ride, skip through the chatter you dont want. People here are extremely helpful, and they throw some humor in, I think its a good deal!

With a degree in English lit, I feel like your option here is teaching. People want to learn to speak…I might be out of the loop completely but I am not sure how prolific the study of English literature as a career building move for an academic is going to be here. If you want to be a Chinese lit person, this is the place…English lit…I am not so sure. Most people I think will just immediately say, why wont you teach english? As for contracts in Asia…I think someone else has already said this…you best be careful about contracts on this continent. Its a different game here. Guanxi (reputation, clout? I dont know if I can translate this beautifully) is very important here in Taiwan…that plays a role in the University setting, you might not be seeing jobs because of that. Its not just a interview process…you have to have other things going for you to get you “in”. As far as building your career…I am just not sure if you would get the value from work here that you want…many people here go off the island for higher education. There are good schools here but in things like English lit, I just dont know if youre going to see major players.

From one academic to the other, I get what youre saying. Good job abroad - yes you can get a good job here but it might honestly be English teaching which you said you dont want, yes, you absolutely could make a decent living here, as we all have said. This is a great place, and for a degreed person like you, you could do well (in English teaching…) There IS literature work here, but honestly, that is your field, you should know, is Taiwan a good place to hole up and work on your CV? Within my field, we all kind of have a sense of where the real work is happening, which countries. I know that Taiwan isnt one of them. If I came here a PhD, I could maybe find a fine teaching job at a Uni, but it probably wouldnt advance my career very much. I’d make a nice living and enjoy how awesome Taiwan is, but in the end, I think it’d be the same as teaching English, maybe do some research here while teaching, work on something, then take it back to the states.

Eng Lit in America is a no go, I am sorry but the academic environment there is not bumpin’ right now…many departments are having to make cuts and work with what little they have, and (this may be the same case in Taiwan too) theyre just trying to employ the how many unemployed American Eng Lit profs that they already have…unless youre the second coming of Eng Lit, you’ll have a ton, ton, ton of competition in America. It will probably be as dismal as in your home country.

As I said before, if youre unemployed and you got nothin to do, this might be a good choice to live a little and experience something new…is it going to be a career booster? Probably not. I would spend some time seriously assessing your field and then go back to the map and decide where you want to go.

Yeah and Albert Einstein should have stayed in the Patent Clerk job he had as well. Better to be employed and add a bit of foreign employment on your resume than being stuck on the dole anyday. Also you never know where a change of country may lead to better things.