Financial Analysis of the Top Public Universities in Taiwan

Yi Hua Lin, Tian Ming Sheu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


1. Research Motivation and Purpose Public universities in Taiwan have implemented endowment funds for more than 20 years. The main purpose of endowment funds is not only to relieve the government’s increasing financial burden but also to promote the universities’ ability to raise self-generated income and access social resources, which gradually facilitates the independent operations of university finances. As the top public universities in Taiwan strive to become world-class universities, the government has invested funds to finance their development and enhance their competitiveness. In addition, these universities implemented the endowment fund system and practiced financial autonomy early on. Therefore, whether the financial operations of these universities have fulfilled the expected policy objectives is of particular concern. 2. Literature Review In the context of global higher education, the financial operations of countries have expanded, with rising costs in recent years. However, economic recession has caused the government to drastically cut funding for higher education universities. Consequently, to reduce internal operating costs, universities have been required to seek funding from the private sector and increase self-generated income through various means. Based on the universities’ self-generated income, the private sector and the government jointly provide funds in a fixed ratio; earn revenue through the diversified operation of hospitals, dormitories, sports fields, restaurants, bookstores, and other affiliated institutions; increase revenue through publishing royalties, examinations, business consulting services, and provision of online courses and selling of textbooks; increase tuition and miscellaneous fees to balance university costs; effectively utilize the universities’ academic research resources to implement brand management strategies for obtaining external capital; reinvest endowment funds; and other measures. Although public universities can undertake a wide range of projects for rains endowment funds, they are yet to attain financial independence because public universities still mainly rely on government subsidies, the standard of charging tuition and fees is strictly controlled, and donations or investments are not actively institutionalized, resulting in ineffective outcomes. Many such practices still need to be improved for universities to achieve financial independence. 3. Research Methods Based on the differences in the development priorities of the top public universities in the academic field, the policy expectations, and the funding provided by the government, in this study, the top public universities were divided into four categories: National Taiwan University, comprehensive type I (National Cheng-Kung University, National Tsin-Hua University, and National Chioa-Tung University), comprehensive type II (National Central University, National Chung-Hsing University, and National Sun-Yat-sen University), and social science and business type (National Cheng-chi University and National Normal University). Through secondary data analysis, the items covered by the National University Endowment Fund Establishment Act were analyzed, including the government’s normal budget appropriations; universities’ self-generated income from tuition and other fees, continuing education, and academia-industry cooperation; government subsidies for scientific research or government commissions; site facility management income; and donation income and investment income. Cross-type analysis was conducted by reviewing the final accounts of top public universities from 2016 to 2019 and by comparing them with relevant government statistics and official reports. The results obtained are expected to assist top public universities in improving their financial operations. 4. Research Results The purpose of the current study is to explore the effectiveness of the financial operations of top public universities through financial analysis. The following results are obtained: (1) The self-generated income of top public universities has increased every year, and the government subsidy also continues to increase; (2) top public universities with science, technology, and medicine as their main discipline cluster exhibit higher contributions to the development of academia-industry cooperation, but the government remains their main source of investment, with an extremely low rate of private sector investment; (3) top public universities of the social science and business type are more adept at increasing income from tuition and fees by using their in-service master’s program operation; (4) universities of the social science and business type efficiently utilize the school’s assets and implement continuing education to increase revenue; (5) National Taiwan University and comprehensive type I universities exhibit more active ability for donations and investment management; and (6) academic fields, regional factors, and business strategies affect the quantity of self-generated income, especially depending on whether universities can efficiently utilize their own resources. The results are expected to help top public universities improve their future financial operations as well as enhance the government’s research and development for formulating more effective higher education funding policies. Especially allow top public universities to directly correspond to reference operations. 5. Research Suggestions According to the study results, the following policy recommendations for financial operations are proposed for the government and top public universities from a practical perspective: (1) Top public universities should efficiently increase student enrollment into academic courses to increase their income from tuition and miscellaneous fees. Moreover, the government should relax the standards and conditions for tuition and miscellaneous fees to facilitate financial autonomy of the school fund. (2) Top public universities should increase the industrial applicability of the research results and aim to obtain a greater proportion of private sector funding. (3) Top public universities should more actively develop diversified business strategies based on school attributes. (4) Top public universities should prioritize fundraising and investments and obtain incentives; this financial independence should improve their resilience. For future research, the government should expand on the current “public platform for college affairs information” and comprehensively collect and release the relevant financial data of each university to facilitate analysis in combination with other university affairs data and to elucidate the factors influencing university financial operations. In addition to data analysis, future research should qualitatively analyze business perspectives, organizational culture, decision-making processes, and other business strategies by examining actual cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-135
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Research in Education Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • endowment fund
  • government subsidies
  • higher education finance
  • self-generated income
  • top public universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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