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Despite strict procedures, quality of doctoral graduates remains low

VietNamNet Bridge - The doctoral dissertation defending process in Vietnam is strict but the quality of its graduates remains low. 
VietNamNet Bridge - The doctoral dissertation defending process in Vietnam is strict but the quality of its graduates remains low. 


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Thanh Nien newspaper quoted Ta Hai Tung from the Hanoi University of Science & Technology as saying that the doctoral dissertation defending procedure in Vietnam is ‘the strictest in the world’.

He said PhD students have to hold a seminar once every six months. Before the dissertation writing ends, he has to organize a seminar to collect opinions from teachers. After editing the dissertation, the PhD student can submit the work to the school. 

It takes one to four years on average to complete a dissertation. This means that one has to organize 8-9 seminars. He also needs one more seminar to defend the outlines of the dissertation. The figure, as described by Tung, is ‘terrible’.

One has to go through three steps to defend a PhD dissertation. In the first step, the defense is at the grassroots level, before two critics and five council members.

In many cases, critics and scientific council members treat PhD students with indulgence. They do not have the heart to give poor comments about dissertation works. Therefore, PhD students can successfully defend dissertations and obtain doctorate.

The second step is closed review. The dissertation will be "secretly" sent to two reviewers, while 50 questionnaires will be sent to experts to collect comments about the work.

Finally, PhD students will have to defend the dissertation at the council at the school level.

Meanwhile, in European countries, candidates only have to take steps one and three and in Australia, only step two.

However, even with the strict procedure, the quality of PhDs trained in Vietnam is not highly appreciated.

Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Nguyen Trong Thua confirmed at the ministry’s August press conference that Vietnam has a high number of ‘paper doctors’.

‘Paper doctor’ is the word used by Vietnamese to talk about those who have a doctorate, but don’t have real talent.

Hoang Ngoc Vinh, an education expert, also commented that Vietnam’s schools are to selective when enrolling PhD students. People have to satisfy requirements to be eligible for following doctoral training courses.

However, the quality of PhD training not only depends on the quality of input PhD students, but also on the training process, capability of students and instructors and the opinions from viewing councils. 

The question is if the individuals involved in the steps of the procedure are knowledgeable, honest and unbiased enough to appraise the dissertations and PhD candidates.

In many cases, critics and scientific council members treat PhD students with indulgence. They do not have the heart to give poor comments about dissertation works. Therefore, PhD students can successfully defend dissertations and obtain doctorate.

In other words, though the procedure is strict, the result of the process will still be poor if the implementation and supervision are loosened.


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