VN-Australia: From the steel bridge to the bridge of knowledge

VietNamNet Bridge - To come to a decision to allow RMIT to enter Vietnam, the government then had a great political determination before the reservation and worry of a country that began to open up.

Australian minister who has “predestined ties” with Vietnam

vietnam, australia, relationship, my thuan bridge, RMIT 

The ground-breaking ceremony of My Thuan Bridge.

One day in the early October 2008 in Ho Chi Minh City, President Nguyen Minh Triet received Michael Maan, General Director of RMIT – the largest public university of Australia.

The Vietnamese President mentioned the "iconic works" in the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries: the My Thuan Bridge and the RMIT University Vietnam.

The two "icons" are known very well by Michael Maan, former Australian Ambassador to Vietnam.

My Thuan Bridge

My Thuan Bridge is considered the project that marks the beginning of Australia’s grant of official development assistance (ODA) at the government level to Vietnam in the early 1990s.

13 years ago, the two sides started this project. At that time, starting from the project to build "friendship bridges on the Mekong River" connecting Laos and Thailand, the Vietnamese government called for Canberra to help build the My Thuan Bridge.

This project was committed by the administration of Prime Minister Paul Keating in 1994 but then it had trouble under the ruling of the Liberal Party. It was not a priority project. The construction of this project was stopped for the time and it was then continued thanks to the efforts from both sides.

In 2000, the bridge was opened. My Thuan becomes an important backbone linking the Mekong Delta region and other regions. Mr. Michael Maan was on the bridge on the inauguration day 13 years ago.

vietnam, australia, relationship, my thuan bridge, RMIT 

The inauguration of My Thuan Bridge, 2000. Photo: Ausaid 

Just a year after the bridge was put into use, the income of the people on both sides of the river increased 30 percent. According to the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), to date, every year this bridge serves more than 5 million vehicles.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties of Vietnam-Australia this year, a new ODA bridge project funded by Australia is expected to be launched. That is the Cao Lanh bridge project in Dong Thap Province, with the aid of 160 million Australian dollars, to connect the Mekong Delta region with the rest of the Southeast Asia and beyond.

According to Mr. Layton Pike, Assistant to Director-General of Ausaid on international development, this will be the biggest aid project of the Australian government in the Greater Mekong sub-region.

The first international university

For RMIT, the first international university with 100% foreign investment capital in Vietnam, Mr. Michael Mann is probably one of the people who most thoroughly understand the development process of this project, from the zero in 1998.

Professor Margaret Gardner, Vice President of the University Council, the director of RMIT University said that some people said that Mr. Maan and the board of directors of RMIT were "crazy" when starting it like that.

"We had to start it with zeros, especially the zero on the legal framework for the establishment of an international higher education institution with 100% foreign capital," Prof. Gardner said.

vietnam, australia, relationship, my thuan bridge, RMIT 

Professor Margaret Gardner: We have started from the point 0 in the Vietnamese market. 

To come to a decision to allow RMIT to enter Vietnam, the government then had to have great political determination before reservations, fears of a country that began to open up.

Professor Peter Coloe is a close colleague of Michael Mann in establishing RMIT in Vietnam and has worked related to the research and teaching in Vietnam for the past 10 years. Mr. Coloe said: "We have received huge political support of the government of Vietnam."

Since 1998 when they formally received the invitation from Vietnam to the year 2000, they had the first educational institution in Ho Chi Minh City. Michael Mann led RMIT Vietnam in the first years of establishment, laid the solid foundation for the development of the university, especially the close relationship with the government of Vietnam.

At present, the university has 6,000 students, with training facilities in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and becomes the Asian branch in the development strategy of RMIT. Not to mention, RMIT Melbourne also has many Vietnamese students and has trained a large volume of civil servants for Vietnam.

Before the lunar New Year 2013, Mai Linh, 20, a third-year student of RMIT Vietnam, received good news when she was admitted to work part-time for Ernst & Young.

"I was the last person in the class who acquired a part-time job," Ling said.

Duc, who graduated two years ago, has worked for several large private companies. He even held the position of department manager. Duc also refused the opportunity to work for HSBC before becoming an officer of the Trade Promotion Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

"I thought I was equipped with very good knowledge. After working for some private companies, I want to work for the public sector, where needs the staff with professional knowledge," Duc said.

The story of Australia's education exports to Vietnam is not only in one direction. In the early 1990s, Vietnamese students started to go to Australia.

At that time, Vietnamese students’ foreign language proficiency was not good as today but they were accepted to study in Australia.

But by the late 1990s, when the two countries had the first agreements on educational cooperation, the element of "competitiveness” was placed on top to ensure opportunities for many Vietnamese students studying in Australia, both self-funding and getting scholarships.

Vietnam now ranks fourth in the group of countries with the largest students studying in Australia, with 22,360 people.

Australia is one of the leading countries that are chosen by Vietnamese agencies and ministries to send their staff to training.

A generation of Vietnamese who are trained in Australia is formed.

Xuan Linh
vietnam, australia, relationship, my thuan bridge, RMIT