Mar 1, 2013

Vietnam - Universities all proclaim themselves as research institutions

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VietNamNet Bridge – Under the University Education Law, from 2013, Vietnam would have three types of universities, research, utilization and practice. However, to date, most schools still do not know what they are.

Thinking one way, following another way

In 2005, in the resolution on university education renovation, the government decided that Vietnam needs to have 70-80 percent of total students studying at utilization schools.

However, to date, most schools have been pursuing the strategy of becoming research universities, even though they can only serve as the utilization or practice training establishments.

A recent survey a research team of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) showed that six out of the eight polled schools decided to develop into academy research universities.

The survey has also found out that some schools decided to become research schools, but in fact, their activities showed that they are developing into utilization and practice schools.

The research team has pointed out that this is really a big problem, because this shows the inconsistency of schools in their thoughts and activities. Research schools and practice schools need to follow the two completely different ways and they need different development methods.

The Hanoi Economics University and the Hanoi Agriculture University have both decided to become research schools, but in fact, their curricula do not serve that end.

Research universities are understood as the schools focusing on post-university education and scientific research. However, in fact, the schools have been focusing on university education, enrolling students for different modes of training, from full-time to in-service.

Especially, the Hanoi Economics University now provides the distance training, a kind of training applied only by the schools operational for the purpose of increasing the intellectual standards of people.

The Hanoi University of Technology, though having decided to become a research university, but it has been providing training services in many different fields, while enrolling students for 3-year vocational training as well.

Since universities and junior colleges don’t understand well what they want and what way to follow, they have made low quality products: the students graduating from the schools cannot get adapted to the conditions to be useful in the labor market.

Unreasonable regulations only facilitate research schools

A paradox exists that schools have to develop into research schools instead of vocational or practice schools, because the current policies only fit research universities.

Le Viet Khuyen, former Deputy Director of the University Education Department, said a lot of regulations have become unreasonable any more.

MOET, for example, has decided that universities need to have at least one lecturer with doctorate and three lecturers with master degrees to be able to open a new training major.

If schools want to set up their curricula for every training major, they need to have at least five permanent lecturers with doctorates, including at least one professor, associate professor or doctor of science in the major.

Meanwhile, Khuyen said, the requirements cannot be satisfy by the schools. They are just suitable to research universities, not to practice ones.

Schools themselves don’t want to become practice schools, because they fear that the State would lessen the investments in the schools and only focus its support on research schools.

Deputy Minister of MOET Bui Van Ga said the ministry would release a document that guides the classification of universities. He also said that in order to become research universities, schools would have to satisfy the strict requirements.

Tia Sang

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