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PhD training: low training costs cannot bring high quality

VietNamNet Bridge - Low budgets have contributed to the failure of the program that targets 23,000 PhDs by 2020 (Project 911). 
VietNamNet Bridge - Low budgets have contributed to the failure of the program that targets 23,000 PhDs by 2020 (Project 911). 


Prof Dao Trong Thi, former chair of the National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, the Youth and Children, said when he worked as director of the Hanoi National University, he met many foreign professors who asked for help to find excellent students.

Thi said foreign professors praised Vietnamese PhD students for being clever, industrious and enthusiastic. Excellent postgraduates can obtain opportunities to go abroad for PhD training courses with scholarships granted by foreign schools or governments.

Excellent postgraduates can obtain opportunities to go abroad for PhD training courses with scholarships granted by foreign schools or governments.

This explains why young university lecturers are not eager for the government’s scholarships under Project 911, because of the small amount of money, low stipends and many requirements.

Nguyen Xuan Vang, a former senior official of MOET, also commented that the financial policy was one of the causes. 

In general, university lecturers only choose Project 911 after they fail to obtain other scholarships as the financial support they receive is modest and they have to satisfy too many requirements. Candidates have to spend their own money to learn English because the State does not fund English study. 

MOET believes that the financial policy of Project 911 has many problems. As for full-time domestic training, the financial support of VND16 million per PhD student per annum is applied to medical training. The figure is VND10 million for social sciences, economics, law, hospitality, tourism and others. The levels are much lower than the initially planned level of VND67 million.

Thi emphasized that it is necessary to apply another financial policy for the new project on training 9,000 PhDs, or the project will also ‘die halfway’ like Project 911.

“When you pay low, you should not expect high quality,” he said.

He went on to say that the state needs to offer good treatment to university lecturers to retain them. Lecturers will feel discouraged if after many years of studying to obtain doctorates, they return to work and receive the same low salaries.

Giang Tran, who was a PhD student at Southern Cross University, commented that the biggest problem in PhD training in Vietnam is the lack of money. PhD students don’t have a salary, and the state’s allowance is very low. 

In many cases, students have to spend their own money to pay tuition and carry out scientific research. They have to take many different jobs to earn their living and fund their studies, and don’t have much time for research. Thus, the PhD dissertations are not of high quality.


9,000 PhDs: just what the doctor did not order

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