Vietnamese universities of international stature - a distant dream?
VietNamNet Bridge - Having Vietnam universities listed among the world’s top 200 universities by 2020 was a target set by the government in Decisions 121 and 37 in 2007 when it adjusted the 2006-2020 programming for the university and junior college network.


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No Vietnam university is listed among THE's ranking of the Asian leading universities



Decision 37 will expire in three years. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised that goals set in the decision may be unattainable.

By the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, Vietnam had 235 universities, academies and 37 research institutes, 33 pedagogical junior colleges (3-year training) and two pedagogical intermediate schools (2-year training). Also by that time, 23 state-owned universities had been allowed to operate under the autonomy policy.

However, autonomy policies are not associated with university administration reform and social accountability. By the end of April 2017, of 169 state-owned schools, only 58, or 34 percent of total schools, had school councils. Even schools with councils do not have real power to determine major issues.

By the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, Vietnam had 235 universities, academies and 37 research institutes, 33 pedagogical junior colleges (3-year training) and two pedagogical intermediate schools (2-year training). Also by that time, 23 state-owned universities had been allowed to operate under the autonomy policy.

Regarding teaching staff, there are more than 72,000 lecturers, but only 22.7 percent of them have a doctorate. The target set in Resolution 14 still has not been reached.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has admitted that the number of lecturers with doctorates and professor/associate professor titles is still low and the quality of the lecturing staff is questionable. 

Many lecturers have no scientific research work, no published scientific articles and limited foreign language skills.

No Vietnamese university is listed in the Times Higher Education’s (THE) ranking of the leading universities in Asia. Dr Le Minh Toan noted that Vietnam has no prestigious research-oriented schools like other regional countries.

One survey found that 34 percent of professors and 53 percent of associate professors have no published scientific articles.

Some analysts have pointed out that while developed countries have given professorships to young scientists, Vietnam is going the opposite way. There are barriers and requirements on service length which slows down the advancement of scientists.

The problems of the teaching staff are blamed on management policies. Lecturers are paid based on service length, not on the capability and efficiency. 

Training establishments want to attract talented people, but cannot offer a monthly salary of more than VND4 million to a lecturer with a doctorate. 

The low quality of university lecturers partially explains why training quality has not improved significantly. The dream of building universities of international stature remains far away.


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Chi Mai

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