Hiking expedition funding to be audited: NTU officials
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.
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.