return icon

Universities' English language requirements may hinder rural students, experts warn

As more and more top Vietnamese universities consider prospective students' English language ability for admission, concerns have been raised about inequality for students in rural areas.


Students seek information about universities enrolment at an event organised in Vinh University. in Nghe An Province in January. 


At least 30 universities have announced they would prioritise or enrol students who have IELTS certificate score from 4.0 to 6.5 and use the English language proficiency certificates as part of admission criteria.

Many people support the move to help improve the quality of enrolment.

Vu Thi Hien, head of the Department of Training Management under the Foreign Trade University (FTU), said the FTU would admit students based on their high school performance and English competency. 

Hien said many training programmes in universities use English as the main language, even the language of instruction.

For example, the FTU has 17 out of 32 training programmes taught in foreign languages, including 14 in English. Therefore, it is important to select candidates with foreign language competency to study these programmes.

"International English certificates such as TOEFL and IELTS are highly reliable, so admission based on these certificates will be a trend of universities", Hien told VOV2 (The Voice of Vietnam).

Concurring with Hien, Tran Trung Kien, head of the Admissions Department of Hanoi University of Science and Technology (HUST), said the use of international English certificate is a common trend of many universities worldwide, not just in Vietnam.

The assessment of students' foreign language ability would not only increase their opportunities but also help them gain advantages for their future studies, he said.

Candidates for HUST’s majors in English and economic management must have an IELTS certificate score of at least 6.5 or an equivalent international language certificate and an average academic score of 8.0 at high school 

Phan Thai Son, a student from the High School Education of Sciences under Education University (Vietnam National University), said admitting students based on English competency would diversify assessment methods.

“We have more options and the door to enter the university is open to us,” he said.

Bui Dieu Anh, another student, said: “As soon as being informed of IELTS scores, I prepared necessary skills to adapt to the new environment at the university.” 


Vu Khac Ngoc, a well-known online teacher, said since 2015, the high school graduation and university entrance exams have been combined into one national exam to determine enrolment eligibility. Thus, he said, the use of international English certificates was an important base for making enrolment decisions.

Giving priority or admitting candidates with international English certificates such as TOEFL and IELTS may promote studying English in high school. However, Ngoc said, it might create inequality for students in rural or remote areas.

He said students in these areas faced more difficulties accessing English learning programmes.

"Many parents let their children participate in TOEFL and IELTS preparation courses very early to have a priority certificate for admission to 10th grade and university. This has a positive side, but sometimes it is a burden,” Ngoc said.

He said some students from nearby provinces such as Bac Ninh or Hung Yen had to travel long distances to English centres in Hanoi to practise for IELTS exams and to study with native English speaking teachers every week.

"Not many families can afford that," Ngoc said.

He suggested careful consideration should be made regarding enrolling students based on international foreign language certificates so as not to hinder disadvantaged groups in society.

"Using IELTS scores for university admission could take opportunities away from students who lack IELTS or relevant certificates," Nguyen Thanh Binh, a Hanoian mother of a 10th-grader, told Việt Nam News

According to Ngoc, if universities really care about the students' English competency, the Ministry of Education and Training or universities should organise English proficiency tests for students. Thus, their competency will be measured through a general test that is not as costly as international English certificates.

However, Nguyen Thi Hoa, an English teacher in Hanoi, said people should not too worried about the issue as universities allocate 10-20 per cent of their enrolment quotas to students who have high school results and either an IELTS or TOEFL certificate.

Hoang Minh Son, deputy minister of Education and Training, agreed, saying: "I don't think assessing applicants based on their international language certificates will pose a risk of inequality because the total enrolment quotas are still the same." 


Many HCM City universities offer programmes in English

Many HCM City universities offer programmes in English

Many universities in HCM City offer programmes in English to enable their students to communicate in that language when they work elsewhere in the ASEAN Economic Community, within which the bloc’s nationals can freely migrate.

Dual degree programmes start this academic year

Dual degree programmes start this academic year

Several universities in Ho Chi Minh City will launch dual-degree training programmes in the 2020-2021 academic year in an aim to offer more diverse choices for students.


Google Doodle honours first female Vietnamese newspaper editor Suong Nguyet Anh

The world’s most popular search engine Google has paid tribute to Suong Nguyet Anh, the first female editor of the nation’s first women’s newspaper by posting a drawing of her on its homepage on February 1.

Banh Cuon among world top 10 dishes visitors should try in 2023

Australian travel magazine Traveller has listed Banh Cuon, Vietnamese steamed rice rolls, among the top 10 best meals from around the world that visitors should try in 2023.

Party chief directs key tasks for new year

Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong on Tuesday chaired a meeting of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee, mapping out key tasks for the new year.


Domestic market to drive tourism recovery in 2023: insider

Some big companies made profits in 2022, but others incurred losses

While Duc Giang Chemicals and Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical have reported big profits for Q4 and the year 2022, Vietnam Airlines and leading steel manufacturer Hoa Phat saw big losses for the year.

Vietnamese couple help German bicyclist in distress

Trung and Nhung, a Vietnamese couple, on the way to travel across Vietnam on Tet holiday, saw a foreigner who was facing troubles because of strong winds in Ninh Thuan.

Vietnam develops green agriculture to increase exports to EU

Vietnam is paying attention to mobilising resources to invest in developing green agriculture with an aim to raising the market share of its agricultural exports to the European Union.

Vietnamese team comes first at Southeast Asian Fencing Championship

Vietnam secured the first position at the 2023 Southeast Asian Fencing Championship which has taken place recently in Malaysia.

2023 - Time for Edtech to thrive in Vietnam

Experts are positive about the development of Vietnam’s education technology (Edtech) market in 2023 if local Edtech companies can overcome post-pandemic challenges.

UK imports from Vietnam in 2022 put at over US$6 billion

United Kingdom (UK) imports from Vietnam amounted to US$6.06 billion last year, rising by 5.2% over 2021, according to the General Department of Vietnam Customs.

Five more registration officials in Hanoi prosecuted for soliciting bribes

Police of Hanoi’s Thuong Tin District has started legal proceedings against five officials at 2915D Registration Centre for taking bribes.

Thai Thi Lien, Vietnam's matriarch pianist and pedagogue, passes away

Thai Thi Lien, one of the founders of Vietnam's National Academy of Music, passed away on Tuesday peacefully at her home at the age of 106, her son Tran Thanh Binh said.

VN striker Tien Linh vies for Asia’s Best Footballer Award 2022

Vietnamese striker Nguyen Tien Linh has been listed among the 25 nominees for the Best Footballer in Asia 2022 award organized by Titan Sports of China.

Visa policy change needed to further attract foreign visitors: tourism authority

A key for Vietnam to attract more foreign tourists at this time is to change its visa policy, said Chris Farewell, a member of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB).

Da Nang promotes food into unique tourism product

Not only famous for its beautiful natural landscapes, bridges and diverse cultural heritage as well as hospitality of the locals, the central coastal city of Da Nang boasts rich food known to world tourists for its unique taste.