Hik­ing ex­pe­di­tion fund­ing to be au­dited: NTU of­fi­cials

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY YUAN-MING CHIAO

As media scru­tiny in­creased over pro­ject fund­ing for a planned Na­tional Tai­wan Univer­sity (NTU) stu­dent hik­ing ex­pe­di­tion, univer­sity of­fi­cials stated yesterday that money di­rected into fund­ing would be au­dited by its ac­count­ing of­fice.

Re­ports of the ex­pe­di­tion sur­faced ear­lier this week when a crowd- fund­ing web­site called “Climb Tai­wan” en­cour­aged the public help fund the ex­penses of 25 stu­dents on a hike through Tai­wan’s Nanhu moun­tain range. Ex­pen­di­tures in­clud­ing in­sur­ance, equip­ment and lodg­ings amounted to NT$500,000, draw­ing gen­eral ire from the public.

Upon in­ves­ti­ga­tion, lo­cal media dis­cov­ered that the uni­ver­si­ty­of­fered course “Team Learn­ing and Out­door Lead­er­ship” had been out­sourced to a pri­vate com­pany, Out­door Lead­er­ship Cen­ter. A com­pany em­ployee con­firmed over the tele­phone that the course had been bid upon.

As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Chu Shi-wei ( ) of the NTU Depart­ment of Physics and a deputy di­rec­tor of the pro­ject de­fended the ex- pedi­tion, deny­ing yesterday that the course was be­ing out­sourced. He said that although moun­tain climb­ing is one of his pas­sions, he ad­mit­ted to not hav­ing the re­quired cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to lead the ex­pe­di­tion, which was why ex­perts from the Out­door Lead­er­ship Cen­ter were in­volved. The com­pany would pro­vide equip­ment and safety train­ing while en­sur­ing the safety of the par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dents.

Chu added that the pro­gram had led stu­dents in six pre­vi­ous climb­ing ex­pe­di­tions to “foster out­door lead­er­ship,” in­clud­ing two trips to the Hi­malayas.

NTU Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Lin Tate ( ) con­firmed that fund­ing for the pro­ject bid orig­i­nated from Aim for the Top Univer­sity Plan ( ), a five- year, NT$50 bil­lion fund man­aged by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. The bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of NT$400,000 in­cluded climb­ing guide fees, standby emer­gency ve­hi­cles and equip­ment. Lin said that in pre­vi­ous years, ex­pen­di­tures had been cov­ered by cor­po­rate spon­sor­ships and fund­ing from the stu­dents them­selves. Con­tro­ver­sies arose, how­ever, when this year Chu chal­lenged his stu­dents to ob­tain cor­po­rate fund­ing through crowd­sourc­ing to de­fer their per­sonal ex­penses.

When asked whether the costs of the ex­pe­di­tion were out­landish, Lin de­fended the pro­posal, adding that fund­ing al­lo­ca­tions had been agreed upon af­ter dis­cus­sions be­tween stu­dents and in­struc­tors. He rea­soned that the course was one of the most chal­leng­ing in de­vel­op­ing lead­er­ship skills. Some hik­ing ex­perts dif­fered, ar­gu­ing that a Nanhu hike usu­ally takes five days, half of what was planned for by the NTU ex­pe­di­tion.

CNA

The Rain­bow Wa­ter­fall of Hualien County is dis­played in this un­dated pic­ture. The wa­ter­fall is lo­cated in the county’s Sioulin Town­ship. Two corpses were re­cently dis­cov­ered on the banks near the body of wa­ter. While pre­lim­i­nary de­duc­tion has de­ter­mined that both in­di­vid­u­als were sis­ters based on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion on one of the vic­tims, med­i­cal examiners on the case have said fur­ther au­top­sies are nec­es­sary due to se­vere adipocere build-up.

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