Do Van Dung, former Rector of the HCM City University of Technology and Education, said it is necessary to look realistically into the current situation. There are two problems in training for a master's degree.

First, the quality of input students is not high because of the stiff competition among universities to attract students. Some private schools are using every possible way to ‘invite’ students to study at their schools. Meanwhile, students tend to choose the schools which offer easy conditions. Under current laws, the degrees granted by different schools have the same value.

There are some universities, including HCM City University of Technology , which insists on high requirements on input students’ quality. They believe that in order to produce high-quality master’s degree holders, they need to have high-quality postgraduates. The strict requirements keep many students away.

“I know many private schools which are training postgraduates in business administration and economics, though they don’t have those majors. They accept anyone who registers to study,” he said

Second, according to Dung, the training process is loose. The weak point of the study for a master's degree is studying while working, or in-service study. Most students have jobs and 90 percent of them are from state agencies. They study to get a master’s degree which may allow them to get a promotion at work.

So, people don’t study full time, but only on weekends or in the evening. Some universities in the north cannot enroll students who cannot attend physically so they set up classes in their localities to attract local students.

As for these classes, lecturers at universities will teach in localities for one full week. 

“While learners are weak at professional knowledge, they have to study a lot within only one week. How can they receive knowledge all at once?” Dung said.

Dung said that postgraduates are learning under the in-service form, so they don’t concentrate on study, but consider study just as extra classes. They go to the office in the daytime and to extra classes in the evening. This way of training is ineffective and they study just to obtain a master’s degree in a legal way.

“In order to make the master’s degree truly valuable, it is necessary to tighten the quality of input students by organizing common exams for all candidates and tighten control over the training process by requiring concentrated study,” Dung said.

A master’s degree holder in HCM City said in some professions, to do well at work, one needs to have the knowledge of a master’s degree holder. However, if he graduates from university and has a bachelor’s degree and continues studying for a master's degree, his knowledge will be only a little higher than the training program for engineers (the number of credits for an engineer’s program is 160, while it is 120 for bachelor’s and 60 for master’s program).

So, if one decides to study for a master's degree, they need to study and research seriously, and universities need to make appropriate investment in training programs, facilities and design reasonable policies to support those who study for master’s degree.

According to Nguyen Xuan Hoan, Rector of the HCM City Food Industry University, to improve the quality of master’s degree, it is necessary to strictly observe standards set by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) for every education level.

“It will be in vain if MOET tightens the quality of the outcomes, but loosens control over the training process. Therefore, the training depends on schools,” he said.

The spirit of education and training is encouraging study and lifetime study. However, people study because they find it useful for them, not because it brings them degrees and certificates necessary for their jobs. Therefore, training quality needs to be put on top priority.

Ngan Anh