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World class universities would be able to cater to Asia, Pacific
Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers if Viet Nam should improve its existing universities before investing in building international standard higher education institutions. Here are some of the opinions we received:
Tran Hong Thuy, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
Currently, I’m a first year student at Ha Noi National University. It already has adopted credit hour programmes for the last two years. However, in my class, large numbers of students have found it difficult to adopt a more flexible approach to their studies.
I am happy with the style of studying as it has given me the opportunity to express my personal ideas and apply soft skills to reality.
In my opinion, an international standard university needs to combine many factors. The first element is the lecturers; they ought to be trained professionally. The second is the campus, it has to be well-equipped. Thirdly, a standard university requires a modern library system, and lecture theatres capable of holding hundreds of students.
Dormitories, which play a central part in our lives, need to be improved. Viet Nam is ready to meet these requirements, so we should start construction of high quality international university now.
A worker, after graduating from a 20-month course in advanced technology welding can take home a monthly salary of US$540 from a joint-venture company. That pay is high in comparison with the country’s GDP at $960 per year per capita.
Nevertheless, according to Ha Noi’s Employment Introduction Centre, it only supplied 1,900 manual workers for 37,000 available jobs in the last nine months. Goshi-Thang Long Motorbike Spare Parts Co, for example, during recent jobs fair only recruited three candidates for 500 vacancies, although it offered lunch allowances and other bonuses.
The Ministry of Education and Training statistics also showed that each year, more than 400,000 graduates from basic secondary schools fail high school, with another 400,000 failing their university entrance exams, yet only 3.6 per cent of them take vocational training courses.
Educational experts say that the reluctance to do vocational training is due to the commonly held belief that only university degrees and college certificates bring respect. Few want their children to become skilled workers.
What are people’s opinions on manual and white-collar jobs in your country?
Did your parents force you to go to university or college instead of allowing you to get vocational training?
Could you tell us your stories about career choices? Was it hard? Did you come under pressure from your parents over your choice?
In your opinion, how could the government and ministries handle this issue?
We welcome your opinions. Emails should be sent to: [email protected] – or by fax to 84 (0) 43 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi.
It is good to set targets, and it is certainly good to have ambitious targets. But overly ambitious targets that have no chance of being achieved are nothing more than empty dreams.
Setting up a world class university takes time, and it’s not as simple as issuing a decree. Constructing the campus is the least of the problems. Hardware is easy to source, and a beautifully constructed campus incorporating the latest in technology could well become an icon for the country.
But the devil is in the software. It is software that makes things run smoothly and efficiently. By software, I mean top-notch researchers and professors, lecturers who Viet Nam impart their vast knowledge to the student body, a group of capable administrators to ensure the university runs smoothly, and of course, the student body itself.
In the initial stages, the university will need to attract professors and experts from their respective fields around the world to join the faculty. So then this relates to the attractiveness of Viet Nam for top-notch academic talent. Will they be enticed sufficiently to come here? Will their families be willing to relocate to Viet Nam?
The same argument goes for the administrators. While there are probably quite a few administrators in Viet Nam, there is definitely a severe lack of experience among them in running a university such as envisaged by the government.
You are not looking for just anyone with experience in running a university or any professor with a few years’ experience teaching and conducting research in another university.
Aiming for a top 200 ranking means serious talent is required, talent that is in demand all over the world. Competition for their services will be extremely intense.
Last but not least, development of the education system ought not to be top heavy and overly focused on the tertiary institutions only. The primary and secondary education system must be developed as well. After all, these are the same people who will enter the university.
Mai Van Tai, Vietnamese, Seoul
An increase in the quantity of college facilities is necessary to meet the demand for a higher educated society. Viet Nam has rapidly developed both economically and in population, and many people are calling for improved universities.
We acknowledge that new facilities can help recruit more intakes annually so more people will have chance to study at university. Good accommodation for students would be positive, as well as modern teaching equipment. Yet building costs will be huge, and mostly borrowed from overseas, creating a burden for the next generation in loan repayments.
However, new or existing universities are not a public concern. The concern is to reform the education sector, to train students as engineers, economists, doctors, but not machines only to rewrite what are already stated in materials.
Lecturers must improve their standards in order to pass on new knowledge. I used to be a university student and realised that students who did their own work got much better results than those who slavishly followed the curriculum and hung off the words of the lecturer, even if they didn’t come to the lecture theatre.
I also became bored with pointless lectures that would have better have been replaced with practical lessons in English. Upgrading existing facilities would also provide better conditions for study.
A high speed computer can be used by 10 students an hour instead of older, slower models that just give two students a chance to use.
Truong Gia Bao, Vietnamese, Da Nang
I just finished two years studying at an international university located right at the heart of London. It was great to have the opportunity to study and communicate with people from more than 60 countries. We called them classes without borders.
Some may be concerned about the high tuition fees I had to pay. They were high, but there are some things that just cannot be bought. By this, I don’t just mean hard knowledge, but culture and life experiences.
The most important factor for Vietnamese students is learning capability, not financial capacity. Tuition fees may not be a big deal for those wishing to have a high-quality education.
Talented students who cannot afford to pay tuition fees should be granted scholarships and given other support so that they can keep studying at the universities.
In my opinion, Viet Nam should build international universities and improve its existing ones, rather than upgrade old universities into international ones.
I don’t think facilities, the financial capacity, human resources and management methods of current universities are good enough to develop into international standard universities.
A feasible solution is to take full advantage of new investment and foreign support to build completely new universities which operate under a new model and aim at high-quality training.
Viet Nam is located at the intersection of many routes in the Asia-Pacific belt. Viet Nam has also opened its doors more and more widely to other countries, and should have universities with international standards. We are a country of young talents.
A lot of Vietnamese students have won gold, silver and bronze medals at international Olympiads. Many have attended world-famous universities in developed countries, where they have achieved excellent results.
They would be delighted to work in international universities based at home. — VNS