INTERNSHIP PROGRAM: Firms were told foreign students ‘like working overtime,’ are ‘highly cooperative’ and could be assigned to ‘taxing, filthy and dangerous shift work’
By Ann Maxon / Staff reporter
Tungnan University yesterday apologized to the public for advertising its students from South and Southeast Asia as cheaper than migrant workers and ideal for doing “filthy, dangerous shift work” in an internship program plan it sent to companies.
In the eight-page plan, which was circulated on the Internet on Wednesday, the school details all the “perks” companies could obtain from offering internships to its foreign students.
Companies could save at least NT$3,628 per month per worker by not paying the expenses required to hire migrant workers, including fees for labor insurance, health insurance and the employment security fund, it said.
Furthermore, restrictions on company capital, industry type and quotas of migrant workers do not apply to students, it said.
The students would work 20 hours a week in their first year and 40 hours a week in the second, it said, adding that if overtime was required, it could be paid for in the form of a scholarship.
Foreign students “like working overtime” and do not follow the five-day workweek, it said, adding that they require “only the minimum wage.”
They could be assigned to “taxing, filthy and dangerous shift work” and are “highly cooperative,” it said.
In a statement, the school admitted sending the document to a trade union in May last year.
It apologized for the “inappropriate words” used to describe foreign students when comparing them with migrant workers.
The wording was a “mistake” and “misleading,” it said.
All of the school’s internship programs are carried out in line with the Labor Standards Act （勞動基準法） and teachers regularly visit the students at their internships to ensure their work meet their class requirements, it said.
Tungnan University vice president Tung I-Wu （董益吾） on Wednesday said the plan was “inappropriate and not in line with the Ministry of Education’s regulations,” the Chinese-language Liberty Times （the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times） reported.
The plan has been replaced with another that is in line with government regulations, he added.
The ministry said that it has launched an investigation into the school’s internship program.
Of the 25 students on the program, 18 are working at the Grand Hotel Taipei, three are at the HiONE Holiday Hotel and four are at Dim Dim Sum, it said, adding that none of the internships have been ongoing for more than a week.
The school would be severely punished if it is found to have violated students’ rights, it added.
The ministry would require universities and colleges nationwide to review the management of their foreign students and examine their work situations within a month, it said.
“The document shows that the New Southbound Policy internship programs promoted by the ministry has been used as a backdoor for recruiting cheap foreign workers,” the Union of Private Educators said in a statement.
The education and labor ministries should immediately close any loopholes in the regulations to prevent universities from violating students’ rights and disrupting the labor market, it said.
Police should also investigate whether Tungnan University has extracted commissions from students or the companies offering the internships, it added.
Tungnan University’s project proposal listing the “benefits” of enrolling South East Asian students as workers is pictured on Wednesday. Screen grab from the Internet