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Multi-disciplinary universities to become ‘iron fist’ of tertiary education

While state-owned general corporations are considered the ‘iron fist’, or the major motive force in Vietnam’s economy, multi-disciplinary universities should take over that role in Vietnam’s tertiary education.

VietNamNet Bridge - While state-owned general corporations are considered the ‘iron fist’, or the major motive force in Vietnam’s economy, multi-disciplinary universities should take over that role in Vietnam’s tertiary education.


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MOET wants to upgrade tertiary education quality



Vietnam had no multi-disciplinary universities until 1993. All university education establishments, which served a centrally planned economy, were built in accordance with the former Soviet Union’s model, i.e. the universities specializing in certain training majors. There was a ‘general university’, but the school focused on basic sciences.

To implement the Party Central Committee’s resolution on renovating the education system to serve industrialization and modernization in the context of the market economy and international integration, the State began building multi-disciplinary universities.

In 1993 and 1994, five multi-disciplinary universities, namely the Hanoi National University, HCMC National University, Thai Nguyen University, Hue University and Da Nang University, were established by gathering existing speciality schools in the same localities.

At universities, students would be able to choose subjects and programs to follow and to study with the best lecturers. In particular, students at multi-disciplinary universities were expected to have opportunities to follow inter-disciplinary programs thanks to the existence of member schools specializing in different majors.

The two national universities operate in accordance with the specific policy set by the Prime Minister, while the three others operate in accordance with regulations set by MOET.

Under the university education network restructuring submitted by MOET to the government in 1992, all multi-disciplinary universities would be organized as unified bodies, with a three-level administration system, including university, college and department, or the US model.

However, the structure of university (member schools), faculty and department remains unchanged. This, according to Le Viet Khuyen, former deputy director of the MOET’s Tertiary Education Department, led to a misunderstanding among foreign educators that multi-disciplinary universities in Vietnam are university groups.

In fact, Vietnam’s multi-disciplinary universities have the bearing of ‘union of speciality schools’.

Educators hope that multi-disciplinary universities will have a lot of typical advantages, including the compact organizational structure and reasonable budgeting. At

At universities, students would be able to choose subjects and programs to follow and to study with the best lecturers. In particular, students at multi-disciplinary universities were expected to have opportunities to follow inter-disciplinary programs thanks to the existence of member schools specializing in different majors.

However, this has not occurred because member schools have been operating as independent schools and have not cooperated with each other in training.

According to Khuyen, there are two major reasons behind the existing problems in multi-disciplinary universities. First, the schools are not unified entities, but they are just the unions of independent schools. Second, the state recognizes the independence of member schools, creating disjointed activities at multi-disciplinary universities.

The state is encouraging university education establishments to operate under the autonomy mechanism. However, all five multi-disciplinary universities are not among the 24 “self-determined” schools.


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