LABOR ABUSE: Sixty-nine Sri Lankans enrolled at Kang Ning University were told to work at food factories to pay for tuition, which the school denied receiving
By Rachel Lin, Hung Jui-chin and Jake Chung / Staff reporters, with staff writer
The Ministry of Education has established a task force to investigate whether vocational schools across the nation have contravened laws after it found that foreign students at University of Kang Ning international were engaged in work and not study, Deputy Ministry of Education Yao Leeh-der （姚立德） said yesterday.
Yao said that at the start of last school year, the university admitted 69 Sri Lankan students, who were asked to work at meat and food processing plants and told that their labor was paying for their tuition.
The university later informed the students that it had not received money for their work and that they still owed the school tuition, Yao said.
The university has admitted to oversight on the matter and said it would comply with all Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labor inquiries into the issue.
It issued a statement saying it plans to sue a person who posed as an intermediary agency and school representative.
Chu Chi-ping （朱啟屏）, using the alias Chu Yun-sheng （朱雲生）, claimed to work for the Taoyuan Dual-school Education Training Association and brokered the deal with the university last year, the statement said.
The school learned that the students were working off-campus illegally — arranged by the intermediary agency — during the process of applying for their residency and work permits.
Unable to contact Chu or his organization, the school realized that Chu had provided false information, the university said.
The school denied that it had arranged for the Sri Lankan students to work off-campus, adding that it had considered such action as simply part-time jobs performed by college students.
The university said it is waiving the students’ tuition for the last school year, but hoped that the remaining 41 students — 28 had returned to Sri Lanka — would start paying tuition this year.
The ministry said it was cutting the university’s subsidies, lowering its school admission cap and banning it from admitting foreign students this year as punishment.
Yao said that Kang Ning’s case is an isolated incident and should not detract from the contributions that many other schools are making to promote the education sector in line with the government’s New Southbound Policy.
Commenting on the case, a student told the Chinese-language United Daily News that he had come to Taiwan hoping for a better education than that offered by his home country, and has instead been sent to work at food processing factories or butchering plants.
“We were promised NT$220,000 per month, but received only NT$6,000 to NT$8,000, with the rest deducted for ‘tuition fees’ that the school said it never received,” the student said.
The student said he would never trust another Taiwanese, nor recommend Taiwan to other Sri Lankans.
Chu Chun-chang, director-general of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Higher Education, criticizes the University of Kang Ning’s Tainan campus for introducing Sri Lankan students to work illegally at a slaughterhouse. Photo: CNA