Starting in 1991, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has established University of the West in the United States, Fo Guang and Nanhua Universities in Taiwan, and Nan Tien Institute in Australia. On July 17th, 2011, the Presidents of these four universities launched the Fo Guang Shan Four-in-One University Consortium. Dr. Yung Chaur-shin, former Minister of Education and current President of Fo Guang University, was appointed as Chairman and Chief. This set forth Taiwan’s first international collaborative system for universities and a milestone for higher education. In 2014, Guang Ming College in the Philippines became the fifth higher education institution under the auspices of Fo Guang Shan Education Council.
Since its inception, the FGS Five-in-One University Consortium has initiated numerous teacher and student exchange programs. Furthermore, students are provided opportunities for cross-enrollment at partner universities, distance learning, and postgraduate degrees. Through the synergy of the Consortium and the shared resources of Fo Guang Shan branch temples worldwide, students are assisted in reaching their dreams of overseas employment. The Consortium also collaborates with Fo Guang Shan’s 300 branch temples and enterprises including BLTV, the Merit Times, the Buddha Museum, Fo Guang Yuan Art Gallery, Water Drop Teahouse, and publications, in providing students with job opportunities after graduation.
Having never received any form of formal education, it is the most fervent wish of Venerable Master Hsing Yun that all be provided with the opportunity and access he was denied. With his genuine commitment to fostering places of education, he holds true to his pledge of “impart wisdom to self, bequeath a university to society, confer merits to future generations, and bestow accomplishments to the public.” In addition to its five universities, Fo Guang Shan’s educational institutions also include high schools, junior high schools, elementary schools, kindergarten, and 16 Buddhist colleges across the world.
In his determination to realize his vow of founding Buddhist universities, Venerable Master was inspired by the founders of ancient schools in China and their resolve. As such, Venerable Master initiated the Million-Member Fund Raising campaign, inviting the public to support the establishment of schools and educational foundations through monthly donations of NT$100.
Other fundraisers include alms-processions, wholesale recycling, charity sales of calligraphy and paintings, and charity concerts of oldies. Deeply impressed by these efforts to garner people’s support and concern for education, Yu Yu-hsien, former Head of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Higher Education, once asserted, “This is what real education is. This is education for all.”