PhDs leave research institute because of starvation wages
VietNamNet Bridge - Many researchers with doctorates last year left the Biotechnology Institute of the Vietnam Science & Technology Academy because they could not live on the monthly wage of VND3 million.

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Phan Dinh Minh, after spending three years on postdoc study in Taiwan, decided to return and became a researcher in the biochemistry division of the Biotechnology Institute.

He works there under a short-term labor contract and receives about VND3 million, or $136 a month, and no allowance. Meanwhile, in Taiwan, Minh got $2,500 a month. 

Since VND3 million is not enough to cover his basic needs, Minh has to take extra jobs to earn extra money. 

Bui Van Ngoc from Gene Technology Laboratory, one of the nation’s key laboratories, is in the same situation. After finishing postdoc study at Heidelberg University in Germany, Ngoc came to Vietnam to work for the Biotechnology Institute for VND3 million a month. 

The modest amount of money cannot cover his basic needs. He now lives with the money he saved during the years he lived and worked overseas.

Many researchers with doctorates last year left the Biotechnology Institute of the Vietnam Science & Technology Academy because they could not live on the monthly wage of VND3 million.
“The first year after returning to Vietnam was a very difficult year for me. I had to take many different jobs, including foreign language teaching, to earn my living,” he said.

At this moment, Ngoc is participating in a research project and he receives money from the project. However, Ngoc doesn’t know what he would do after the project finishes. In general, scientists will have to wait 1-2 years for new research projects. 

According to Dong Van Quyen, deputy head of the Biotechnology Institute, a lot of young researchers have left the institute recently because of low wages.

“We have been trying to create the best possible academic environment to retain scientists, but this is not enough,” Quyen said.

“VND3-4 million is really not enough to pay for house rent,” he commented. “Businesses are willing to pay ten times higher than the institute. As a result, many researchers have left for Duy Tan University, the HCMC International University or have gone abroad again.”

In fact, the brain drain not only occurs with the Biotechnology Institute, but with many other units of the Vietnam Science & Technology Academy.

Truong Xuan Lam, deputy head of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, said the institute also has to struggle hard to retain talents.

Six researchers have left for the Vietnam Nature Museum. Another one, who worked there after returning from France, wanted to leave but Lam persuaded him to stay, but it still is difficult to stop the brain drain.


Tien Phong

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