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How much can doctoral degree holders earn in Vietnam?

A monthly income of VND8 million revealed by a lecturer at the Hanoi National University has stirred up the public.

“My salary is calculated by coefficient (3.0 x 1.49 million). Besides, I get a monthly allowance for lunch and vehicle fuel, which is about VND4 million. As such, the total income of a doctoral degree holder is just VND8 million,” said the lecturer, who spent many years studying overseas and has a doctorate in natural sciences.

Lecturers can obtain additional income if they are assigned to carry out scientific research. These are mostly projects at grassroots level, VND25-30 million per project per annum.

However, the figure exists in theory. The actual income is lower as recipients have to pay a management fee and a fee for councils to accept the works. And not everyone can receive the money, because the number of projects is limited.

Lecturers can also receive additional money if they teach more teaching periods than required.

“I have to have 270 teaching periods to be able to receive the salary. If I teach more than 270 periods, I would get additional money for an excessive number of periods, VND100,000 for each period. The rate is too low, which is not worth my while,” he said.

The income from the excess teaching periods is VND1-2 million a month, and therefore, the total income could be VND10 million. 

“I know that I should not expect too much, but I cannot imagine that the income would be so low,” he said. “The low income is not enough to cover basic needs, let alone scientific research.”

The lecturer said with the low income, he dared not rent a room near the school, and his time that should be spent on scientific research is used to run private tutoring classes to earn extra money.

“I have one class every evening, from Monday to Friday. And the income from the classes for high school students is even higher than my official income,” he said.

Prior to that, a similar story was related on VietPhD forum. A lecturer who works for a member school of the Hanoi National University said he received VND7 million a month. 

“I have been working for more than 10 years, but my salary is just VND7 million,” he wrote.

“I work for a top-tier school in Vietnam, but the salary is even lower than the income of a mason and shipper. Other lecturers at my school have to take extra jobs to earn extra money,” he said, admitting that he also has to do the same thing and doesn’t have time for scientific research.

What does Hanoi National University say?

An officer of the Hanoi National University said it is necessary to clarify the two concepts – actual income and salary.

“In principle, the Hanoi National Assembly tries to offer reasonable pay to motivate lecturers to work. Salary is not the only source of income for lecturers. The actual incomes are different for different units. Some units have very high incomes,” he said.

“I don’t believe that the total income of a lecturer with a doctorate and service length of more than 10 years is just VND7 million,” he said.

A leader of Hanoi National University told VietNamNet that he would check and clarify the complaints about income. According to him, the school has attracted nearly 200 doctoral degree holders and they have an average income of VND15-30 million.

“If only considering salary, with the salary coefficient of 3.0, a lecturer would receive VND7-8 million. However, salary is just a part of income, which accounts for 50 percent of lecturers’ total income,” he explained.

He went on to say that the school enrolls 11,000 new students each year, so no lecturer lacks teaching periods.

Talking about the income of lecturers at the member schools of the Hanoi National University, he said the income of lecturers of the University of Medicine and Pharmacy is the lowest, because the school has just been established and the school doesn’t have many students.

For lecturers with a doctorate, the University of Technology reports an average income of over VND30 million, while Vietnam-Japan University reports over VND25 million, the University of Education VND16 million and International University over VND30 million.

Thanh Hung

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