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University Social Responsibility program promoting sustainable local development

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At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a briefing from the Ministry of Education (MOE) on its University Social Responsibility (USR) program. To help universities take up and fulfill their responsibilities to society, the program should encourage schools to play a greater role in regional innovation and development by serving as think tanks for local communities, he said.

Under the USR program, launched by the MOE in 2018, higher-education institutions have engaged more deeply with local communities to address such issues as local industrial growth, community culture development, and urban-rural disparities. The projects have allowed universities to contribute their expertise and experiences, making them active contributors to sustainable local development.

Universities should do more than conduct academic research and cultivate talent, however, Premier Su pointed out. As recipients of public funding and resources, the schools have a greater obligation to promote social advancement and national development. Across the world, many universities have incorporated social responsibility as an important objective in their education missions.

2019 is the inaugural year of Taiwan's "regional revitalization" policy, the premier continued. He asked the National Development Council to help the MOE in imparting greater responsibility and significance to USR projects by taking stock of local needs that universities can focus on, match solutions to, and propose regional rejuvenation-type USR projects for. The schools can then partner with local governments and smaller towns in regional development and rejuvenation efforts as they bring the creative abilities and strengths of young people into nearby communities. By integrating industrial, government, academic and research resources to the service of local culture, tourism and economies, the program can help resolve challenges facing communities and create new opportunities for growth.

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