PhD inflation in Vietnam
VietNamNet Bridge - Many PhD dissertations are seen as ‘useless’ and ‘nonsensical’. Why does Vietnam have too many PhDs?

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The heads of the Institute for Social Sciences these days refuse to receive incoming calls. Some professors and PhDs of the institute receive calls, but have refused to make comments about ‘PhD production’.

The Institute for Social Sciences became famous in Vietnam after local newspapers discovered that the institute produces 350 PhDs a year and called it the ‘doctor mill’. 

Meanwhile, Do Khanh Vinh, director of the institute, affirmed that with the existing material facilities and staff, the institute is capable of producing more than 350 PhDs.

The story about the ‘supernatural capability’ of the institute has caught the special attention of the public. 

Le Ngoc Son, a university lecturer, who is now a postgraduate for doctorate at Illenau Technology University in Germany, wrote on his Facebook page; “I feel depressed about Vietnam’s science when I read the titles of some PhD theses.”

Son once intended to attend a training course for a doctorate in economics/business administration at a domestic training establishment. However, he finally decided to give up in 2012. Now, recalling the decision, Son thinks he made the right decision.

The Institute for Social Sciences became famous in Vietnam after local newspapers discovered that the institute produces 350 PhDs a year and called it the ‘doctor mill’. 

When Son defended the draft of the fundamentals of his dissertation, the chair of the scientists’ council said: “Even in scientific research, the world follows its own way, while Vietnam has its way. Please don’t tell me that western education is always wonderful. You got that right?”

Son, who was shocked when hearing the comment which reflected  ‘extremism’ and ‘anti-academic spirit’, decided to become a postgraduate for a doctorate. 

In 2014, Son got a full scholarship to become a postgraduate at Ilmenau University.

Nguyen Van Dung from the Academy of Journalism and Propaganda said that nowadays in Vietnam, institutes and universities try every possible way to enroll postgraduates, who, one or another way, will successfully defend PhD theses.

“Chairs of the scientists’ councils don’t need to be in the same majors with postgraduates. The members of councils who are ‘against’ the theses would be despised,” he explained.

Mai Nguyen, a reader, wrote: “Training PhDs nowadays is considered a business. I know many teachers who don’t know anything except their research topics, but they also guide postgraduates to write dissertations.”

Commenting about the English used in the thesis which discusses the characteristics of communication between chairs of communes’ people’s committees with people, Tran Vinh Du, president of Broward College Vietnam, said the English was terrible and was even worse than the translation version provided by Google Translate.

No one can understand why the author could become a postgraduate with such English skills. Under current regulations, postgraduates must have English skills that are good enough to read documents.


Tien Phong


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