VietNamNet Bridge – Education and Training Minister Phung Xuan Nha tells the Tien Phong (Vanguard) that a programme to attract foreign lecturers and students to Viet Nam has yielded modest results.
In 2006, the Ministry of Education and Training launched what it called an advanced programme to attract foreign lecturers and students to Viet Nam. What has the programme done so far?
The Advanced Programme set up undergraduate courses in English delivered by visiting professors from high-ranking universities and Vietnamese lecturers with PhDs from foreign institutions. One of the programme’s goals is to attract foreign lecturers and students to Viet Nam’s universities, raising their standard, effecting technology transfer and fostering integration among students. The programme also aims to improve the image of Viet Nam’s education and training sector.
However, the programme has only generated modest results so far.
We have to accept the fact that in order to attract international students, we have to create a synchronous environment, especially with the quality of training provided, which is of modest standards in Vietnamese universities, relatively speaking. Moreover, normally, each university only offered one or two courses under the Advanced Programme. So foreign students can only come to Viet Nam on exchange programmes or short-time courses. Now, it’s time to develop a roadmap to attract more foreign students, particularly those who come to Viet Nam to attend a full university programme.
There is an opinion that when it comes to studying aboard, foreign students care about the country’s standing, rather than that of its universities. Do you agree? And what should Viet Nam’s universities do to attract foreign students?
This is only partly true. The nation is not independent of its education sector, and vice versa. We can’t focus on one and ignore the other. Educational achievements also contribute to national standing on the international stage.
The Education and Training Ministry selected a group of outstanding universities from over 200 universities nationwide and selected outstanding faculties in these universities to invest in. It decided to prioritise State-budget resources for those universities and faculties providing human resources that society and businesses need.
For example, scholarships could be offered to attract high quality students for good programmes or funds could be spent on inviting foreign lecturers to Viet Nam.
I don’t mean that only foreign lecturers are good. We have many good Vietnamese lecturers trained in domestic and international training institutions. A good programme is one that has a good balance of Vietnamese and foreign lecturers.
What is the next step for this Advanced Programme?
It takes years to assess the effectiveness of a training programme. In the coming time, the ministry will look at private universities towards ensuring that they provide better education services. This will also push State-owned universities to become more competitive. The universities must stand on their own legs soon as Government will cut subsidies, step by step. Government will pay for the “products” it orders. It will pay universities that can provide the products.
Twenty-three universities in Viet Nam have co-operated with 22 universities in the world to offer 35 training programmes under the Advanced Programme launched by MoET in 2006.
The Advanced Programmed has enrolled 13,270 students, invited 1,833 foreign professors to deliver lectures in Viet Nam. Almost 2,000 foreign students have come to Viet Nam for studying, on internships or academic exchanges under the Advanced Programme.
Of over 3,600 graduates, about seven per cent have been rated “Excellent”, 34.3 per cent, “Very Good,” and 47.4 per cent “Good”. Most of the graduates have got jobs or pursued higher education.