Seeing the Power of Education: TCU is 67th in THE University Impact Rankings 2019 and First in Taiwan


Text: Chia-Yi Lee and Alice Wang
Photo: Jung-Hiu Hsu and Chin-Huo Chang
Translation: J.B. Willis, Steve J. Lin

THE University Impact Rankings 2019 was published recently, and TCU is 67th in the world. On April 26, TCU sponsored “Tzu Chi 53: Expressing our gratitude for what you have done for us.” Through this event, TCU conveyed its thanks to donors, Tzu Chi volunteers around the world, other Tzu Chi affiliates, TCU’s Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association, and the public, for their continuous support. Today’s participants have seen the power of TCU’s unique education and ranking in the world.

Times Higher Education (THE) pioneered the University Impact Rankings this year. A total of 462 universities from 76 countries participated in the rankings. TCU is 67th in the world and first in Taiwan.

TCU’s president Pen-Jung Wang presented “The principle and implementation of Tzu Chi’s education.” President of Academia Sinica James C. Liao, former president Yun Yen of Taipei Medical University, THE’s regional director & general manager of Asia Justin Tay, and executive vice president of Tzu Chi Foundation USA Debra Boudreaux were unable to attend the celebration in person, so they congratulated TCU through pre-recorded videos.

President of Academia Sinica James C. Liao pointed out that TCU has done well in every UN Sustainable Development Goal. Among them, the percentage of TCU students whose parents and grandparents never received university education and the amount of financial aid provided by TCU to needy students impressed him greatly, which also helped TCU be ranked highly in the world. TCU’s impacts aren’t limited to its teaching and research. TCU has also helped enhance social well-being and carry out disaster relief efforts around the world. He encouraged us to continue developing our uniqueness and work vigorously with others, to make Taiwan and the world better.

TCU is located in eastern Taiwan. From its inception in 1994, this is the 25th year for TCU. TCU is still young among universities in Taiwan. Why could TCU reach first place in Taiwan in such a short period of time? President Pen-Jung Wang pointed out that this ranking focuses on universities’ social and economic impacts, by employing eleven United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, decent work and economic growth, climate action, reduced inequalities, etc. The educational goal set by our founder Dharma Master Cheng Yen is very clear, namely cultivation of students’ professionalism and humanism. For TCU’s development, Dharma Master Cheng Yen further suggested the university work closely with other Tzu Chi affiliates in charity, healthcare and humanistic culture, so students have received bountiful resources from them, and applied what they have learned in class to internship programs provided by those affiliates. As a result, students have enhanced their professional knowledge and skills, and more than that, they have enriched their humanism. These UN SDGs are comparable to TCU’s tradition and are also goals we have been devoted to in our teaching and research.

TCU has done a lot to affect the world, which has been shared by videos on five subjects, namely acquiring professional knowledge and skills, gaining skills to serve others, serving the needs of local communities, enhancing international perspectives and working with team spirit. TCU’s Silent Mentor Program teaches TCU students anatomy skills and is open to physicians in Taiwan, as well. As a result, 2,525 physicians have participated in this program. TCU students have done very well in various national licensing exams. Shao-Jyun Fan Jiang is a Chinese Medicine sophomore who won 1st place in the 2019 First Phase of the National Licensing Examination for Chinese Medicine Practitioner. He mentioned that his Silent Mentor, Dr. Tsung-Hsien Tsai, guided him to acquire anatomy knowledge and skills. During Dr. Tsai’s lifetime, he was known as a physician who took good care of his patients. To care for more people, Dr. Tsai joined Tzu Chi International Medical Association, and often visited remote areas to care for the needy. Shao-Jyun learned the essence of professionalism and humanism from Dr. Tsai.

TCU offers 47 service-learning courses each year. The student population is around 3,600, but incredibly, TCU student volunteers attend to 36,000 needy people each year. Yun-Yu Huang, a Social Work Department senior, who received the National Outstanding Youth Award this year, shared that she has been a volunteer since she was a Tzu Chi High School student, and she decided to do more while studying at TCU. She has been a member of TCU SCLOVE and has worked with her peers to serve the needy in numerous locations, both in Taiwan and overseas, such as Hualien’s Fu-Juan and Kuo-Fu neighborhoods, Sichuan Province and Suzhou City in China, Indonesia, and so on. She mainly attends to underprivileged children. In her opinion, a person can only do very little, but a group of people can do a lot, now and in the future.

The Chinese Gong Fu Club of Tzu Chi Senior High School and Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology’s Choir gave performances to congratulate TCU. Over the years, TCU’s international students have increased to more than 10% of the student population. Now, TCU has over 300 international students from twenty countries. When a major earthquake struck Hualien on February 6, 2018, international students who lived in University housing worked with other Tzu Chi volunteers to assist the needy in Hualien. International students were very happy to attend today’s performances, by wearing their traditional clothes. They expressed gratitude to TCU for providing them good education, and making efforts to care for their daily lives. Lungelo Thabethe is an international student from South Africa who came to TCU on a Tzu Chi Scholarship, for without Tzu Chi’s help, she wouldn’t have been able to come here. Throughout these years, she has acquired professional skills and knowledge here and lived without worries.

TCU was founded in 1994 and it has been 25 years since its inception. Dharma Master Cheng Yen established the educational goal for TCU to “equip students with professionalism and humanism combined,” and THE University Impact Rankings recognizes that TCU has carried this out. Moreover, TCU has created characteristics that are unique and can’t be duplicated by other universities in Taiwan. President Wang expressed his gratitude to the dads and moms of Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association, and other Tzu Chi affiliates of charity, medicine and humanistic culture, for their long-standing support. Because of their support, TCU has been able to achieve so much.

Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association is unique in Tzu Chi schools. Each month, these volunteer dads and moms come to the University to be with students, from their first year through the students’ commencement date. Sheng-Sheng Lin is in charge of TCU’s Tzu-Cheng and Yi-Te Association, and she has been with students for 25 years. Her hair has turned gray, as it has with many other dads and moms. She said it takes a long time to achieve TCU’s educational goal, so she is happy to see that TCU has reached something which is recognized by a renowned university ranking institution.

Two deputy CEOs of Tzu Chi Foundation, Pi-Yu Lin and Shao-Ming Chen, presented a golden statue to TCU signifying that TCU has upheld kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity for years. President Pen-Jung Wang and vice president Ingrid Liu accepted the statue on behalf of TCU. “Kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity” is TCU’s motto, which contains Buddhism’s four immeasurables and constitutes Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s educational philosophy.

Six Masters from Jing Si Abode awarded a singular gift to TCU on behalf of Yin Cheng Foundation. Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation Tuan-Cheng Wang and the chairperson of Da Ai TV presented a “Scroll of Tzu Chi,” depicting the deeds Tzu Chi Foundation has done from 1963 through 2019. Amazingly, TCU’s achievement in THE University Impact Rankings 2019 is a part of this scroll.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen was unable to attend this event in person, yet the Dharma Master recognized TCU’s achievement and everyone’s devotion through a video. Dharma Master Cheng Yen pointed out that the reason for setting up the schools was to nurture health professionals to serve the needy in eastern Taiwan. The Dharma Master expects students to cultivate their wisdom at schools, work with their peers to serve others with kindness and compassion in their workplaces, and give to society with a clear direction in life.