Local education regulations stipulate that a college lecturer must spend 500 hours on conducting scientific research in addition to 900 hours of teaching each year.
But statistics show that research seems to be a luxury at higher learning institutions at present, including those attended by tens of thousands of students.
A mere six research papers were written in the previous academic year by lecturers at Hong Bang University, which boasts 32 associate and full professors, 31 holding a PhD, and 62 with a master’s degree, according to official figures.
Nine associate and full professors, 30 doctors, and 151 lecturers having a master’s degree at Van Lang, another university, produced only one research at the municipal level while their colleagues at Saigon Technology University submitted a paltry number of 5 academic studies during the same period.
Dr. Pham Thi Ly, of the Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City, explained at a recent meeting that lecturers cannot find time to do research because they have to teach too much, with some lecturing up to 2,000 hours a year.
She added that a lack of transparency in funding and lecturer incompetence have led to the small number of annual scientific research among higher learning teachers so far.
Dr. Do Van Dung, vice president of the University of Technical Education – Ho Chi Minh City, further explained that a poor command of English has prevented lecturers from undertaking research, besides a hectic teaching schedule.
Many lecturers are simply too busy to research anything since they have to teach and take on managerial duties at the same time, Trinh Huu Chung, personal assistant to the Hong Bang president, said.
Inadequate facilities are also to blame as many universities do not have the right equipment and laboratories for such research activities, Dr. Dung said.
Teaching hours offset research time
A lecturer at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HUTECH) said that many have chosen to teach more hours to make up for the amount of research they are supposed to do.
He elaborated that this extra teaching not only helps offset the research time but it also brings them additional pay, while doing research – usually with a limited budget – can only promise a minute wage for long hours of work.
A university president admitted that his school has also opted to convert the required research time of experienced lecturers to their teaching hours, due to a lack of allocations for research activities.
70 percent of PhDs fail to do research
Vietnam is now among the worst performers in Southeast Asia in terms of research publications despite a big resource of around 24,000 doctors and 9,000 associate and full professors, Professor Nguyen Van Tuan, a Vietnamese researcher at Australia’s University of New South Wales, said during a conference on Friday in the southern city.
About 70 percent of Vietnamese PhDs do not carry out research but merely perform administrative and managerial duties, Prof. Tuan pointed out.
Vietnamese scientists registered 19 patents in the U.S. during the 2000-07 period, he disclosed, citing a UNESCO report.
That number plummeted to 5 between 2006 and 2011, with last year seeing no patent filed to U.S. authorities, the researcher said.
Vietnam ranked 76 out of 141 countries in a 2012 global innovation index lately released by INSEAD, a transnational graduate business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, a United Nations agency.
According to the SIR World Report 2012, published by Spain-based research organization SCImago Research Group, the Southeast Asian nation contributed four higher education institutions – among its most prominent – and all of them stood at the bottom third of the total 3,290 listed participants.
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