Vietnam seeks to build universities of international stature

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Speedskater Aaron Tran ready for the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang

Vietnam’s goal to have at least one Vietnamese university listed among the world’s top 200 by 2020 is being aggressively pursued at five institutions. Hanoi National University, HCMC National University, Hanoi University of Science & Technology, and Can Tho University and Hue University are all in the running to build stronger research programs with a dedicated lecturer to meet international standards.

This year, five Vietnamese schools were listed in Asia’s top 500, including two national universities (Hanoi and HCMC) in the top 200.

According to John Molony from Deakin University, there are three well-known higher education accreditation organizations in the world. Vietnam is working to be listed in the global ranking of at least one of the three organizations.

Do Van Dung, president of the HCMC University of Technology & Education, commented that few Vietnamese schools appear in Asia and world rankings because accreditation organizations set criteria suited to conditions in developed countries, not suited to Vietnam schools.

Some of Vietnam’s universities deem themselves as research-oriented schools, and are working to create learning levels of international standards.

Approximately 80 percent of Vietnamese scientific articles published in international journals are written by Vietnamese overseas postgraduates, jointly with foreign professors. Some of the postgraduates had a high number of articles when they were overseas. However, after returning to Vietnam, they did not have more research publications. According to Dung, in many cases, universities ‘borrow’ lecturers from each other when publishing scientific articles.

Under current regulations, research-oriented schools must have one lecturer for every 15 students. Meanwhile, schools can only collect no more than VND150 million a year in tuition from 15 students, which is not high enough to pay one lecturer. One needs at least VND15 million a month to cover basic needs, or VND180 million a year.

“90 percent of university lecturers live on teaching and they don’t have time for research,” he said. This needs to change in order to reach international research standard accreditation.

Five Vietnam universities, Hanoi National University, HCMC National University, Hanoi University of Science & Technology, Can Tho University and Hue University have been listed in QS Asia’s 400 leading universities.

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