Taiwan should build from scratch the best private science and technology research/liberal arts university in Asia — based on UC Berkeley.
Spend a billion USD, five years of development, pay massively for the best and latest facilities, spend whatever it takes to install the most audacious (international) management and poach the best global minds available. From Berkeley. And MIT. And Oxford. And so on.
Forget NTU, this school would finally and justifiably put Taiwan on the map. Why? Because I’m absolutely convinced it’s the single best forward-looking investment idea Taiwan could make since the supremely successful Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park.
And I’m not alone. I’ve been doing an unscientific poll with friends and businesspeople for years. Whenever we get to that queasy point in random discussion about Taiwan’s future, everyone looks glum. And then I introduce this idea and there is universal agreement.
What’s the best university in Asia? Some people say Tokyo or Hong Kong. Both places have enormous cultural and political limitations. Taiwan has an underleveraged free speech, an insatiable hunger for western education — and money.
Most importantly though the island has the need. A flagging economy. A lackluster political climate. A palpable lack of vision. Creative classes not respected. A perfect policy storm for disaster.
Taiwan could purloin that ‘best university in Asia’ mantle with this single, critical investment. US$1b would be a small price to pay to smooth out Taiwan’s irregularly understood reputation globally.
Not only would the world know the name of this classy school henceforth, students and researchers and the curious would come from every country on the planet making the island a truly international and distinctive and in-demand country.
Finally, because of infamous corruption and politics that professors and schools currently demean themselves with, the institute would necessarily have to be private and independent of government control or it simply wouldn’t work.