Vietnam urged to merge some schools, maintain fewer state-owned schools

Merging schools with the same majors to form multi-disciplinary schools and cutting the number of state-owned schools to more effectively allocate resources should be done immediately, experts say.

Prof Lam Quang Thiep, former director of the Higher Education Department under the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), said in the 1990s, MOET once proposed to develop two national multi-disciplinary universities and three local universities. However, things did not go as designed.

Vietnam urged to merge some schools, maintain fewer state-owned schools

This was because of the strong opposition from schools. Managerial officers of the schools feared that the merger would make them lose their posts. Finally, the plan organizers had to make a compromise by promising to maintain the schools. As a result, two-level universities were born.

The two-level university model has neutralized the advantages of the multi-disciplinary model. Therefore, Thiep proposed to build up Vietnam’s tertiary education system in accordance with a ‘real university’ model.

There are two options to implement the plan, Thiep suggested. First, allowing single-disciplinary member schools to develop into universities, and two-level schools to turn into groups of universities.

The two-level university model has neutralized the advantages of the multi-disciplinary model. Therefore, Thiep proposed to build up Vietnam’s tertiary education system in accordance with a ‘real university’ model.

Second, two-level universities would turn into single units, and the whole universities will have only common training programs.

In general, Thiep said Vietnam should focus on developing a tertiary education system of international stature, rather than on creating a few universities of international stature.

“World-class higher education system is a strong, diverse, stratified one, effectively meeting the different requirements of socio-economic development and learning needs,” he explained.

 


Le Viet Khuyen from the Vietnam Association of Universities and Junior Colleges also said that the existing multi-disciplinary universities cannot not show synergy as a true multidisciplinary university because they were still not unified bodies. They simply operate as ‘university groups’ or ‘unions of schools’.

Legally, member schools in universities are recognized by the State as having the status of independent bodies. As a result, the activities of the universities are fragmented with no connection among member schools.

Khuyen said in order to build up multi-disciplinary universities into ‘iron fists’ of Vietnam’s tertiary education system, it is necessary to give full autonomy to them and erase the governing body mechanism.

Meanwhile, Thai Ba Can, former senior official of MOET, noted that higher education establishments, research-oriented or application-oriented, both prioritize to increase the numbers of students to enroll for mass training. Top-tier universities don’t pay much attention to elite training and scientific research.

In general, restructuring the higher education system is what many experts have proposed.

Tran Duc Canh, a member of the National Council for Education and Human Resources Development, believes that it would be better to cut the number of state-owned schools from 171 to 160 in order to better allocate resources.

Linh Ha

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