Oct 27, 2012

Vietnam - Schools fined for claiming foreign links

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VietNamNet Bridge – Several schools offering courses illegally affiliated with foreign education institutions have been fined yesterday, Oct 22, according to Ministry of Education and Training.

The schools were also given a deadline of 10 days to stop offering and running courses affiliated with foreign institutions that did not have the proper licences.

Deputy chief inspector of the ministry Pham Ngoc Truc said the fines for the schools, mostly operating in HCM City, were between VND7.5-22.5 million (US$357-$1,071).

The Oriental Research Development Institute, Institute of Financial Administration and Sai Gon University were slapped with administrative fines for illegally running post-graduate affiliation programmes with the USA's Preston University, Australia's Ballarat University and Switzerland's University of Business and International Studies respectively.

In addition, foreign-invested education institutes Sibme International Education, ERC Institute Viet Nam and Melior Viet Nam were found to be illegally holding courses in the fields of business management, information technology and hotel management in Viet Nam, promising students diplomas and bachelor degrees.

SARA Ha Noi Joint-stock Company received the highest fine of VND22.5 million ($1,071) for illegally offering MA programmes without a licence and recruiting students for courses illegal affiliated with foreign institutes.

Truc said all of these educational institutions also must be responsible for harming their students.

However, experts from the education sector raised concerns over the limited impact of such small fines.

Pham Le Hai Anh, a teacher at Ha Noi's foreign language university, said the fines were small when compared to the huge profits gained from each student who has to pay at least $5,000 a term.

Anh said she had been a victim of one of these programmes affiliated with foreign institutions. Anh said she had spent two and a half years and more than $25,000 in the hope of getting an Australia-based university's MA degree.

Nguyen Thanh Phat, an officer at the ministry, shared the same idea and said these illegal programs have become popular in the recent years and many exploited legal loopholes.

SIBME, ERC Viet Nam and Melior Viet Nam have been fined for violations in the past.

In June, seven other educational institutions in co-operation with Australian and French schools were found to be offering degrees without authorisation. Thousands of students have been affected by these wrong doings.

Truc said the level of punishment for these violations was based on the Government's current regulations on administrative punishment in the field of education.

A decree regulating criteria for courses affiliated with foreign schools and foreign-invested educational institutions will come into force in the middle of next month to tighten management of these activities.

However, the decree still fails to set out specific punishment levels in this area. Experts have called on stricter management methods to prevent future violations.


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