Higher Education Department
In the Education Development Strategy from 2001 to 2010, the goals of higher education in Vietnam have been clearly set out as “to provide high quality human resources in line with the socio-economic structure of the industrialization and moderniza- tion of the nation; enhance the competitiveness in fair co-operation for Vietnam in its international economic integration; to facilitate the expansion of post secondary education through diversification of educational programs on the basis of a path-way system that is suitable for the structure of development, careers and employment, local and regional human resource needs and the training capacities of education institutions; to increase the appropriateness of the training to the employment needs of the society, the ability to create jobs for oneself and for others”.
In the academic years of 2002-2003, there are 111 universities and 119 colleges in the higher education system; of which 15 universities are private, 2 semi-public, and 2 private colleges. The total number of students reaches 1,020,670 and 64% of whom are full-time students, 36% part-time. The student rate is 124.7 per 10 thousand. The total number of lecturers are 32,205, of whom 5,476 lecturers have PhD degrees (17%), 9,543 have Master degrees (29.6%), and 17,186 have bachelor''''s degrees (53.4%). Only 324 of these lecturers have been awarded with the title of professors (1%) and 1,124 associate professors (3.49%).
I. HIGHER EDUCATION STRUCTURE AND GOALS
(Source: Education Law, National Political Publisher,
As regulated in the Law on Education, higher education covers undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Undergraduate studies can lead to diploma or bachelor degrees while postgraduate studies can lead to master degrees and doctorate degrees.
The goals of higher education are set as follows:
To train the human resources with political and moral qualifications ready to serve the people; knowledge; with practical knowledge, good health and abilities to contribute to the development and the defense of the country.
Duration and objectives for different levels in higher education:
3-years college programs are for those with upper secondary school or secondary vocational school certificates. College education can provide students with fundamental knowledge
as well as practical and problem-solving skills for specific careers.
Subject to areas of studies, undergraduate programs take four to six years for those with senior secondary school or secondary vocational school certificates, and one to two years for those having completed college programs of the same area. Undergraduate studies provide the student with consolidated professional knowledge and practical skills for a specific career, and with skills necessary for identifying and solving problems arisen in the field of studies.
Postgraduate studies include programs leading to master and doctorate degrees.
Master programs require two years to be completed for those with bachelor’s degrees. Master programs can provide students with strong theoretical background and high levels of practical skills, combined with skills necessary for identifying and solving problems arisen out of their areas of studies.
Doctorate degrees take four years for those with bachelor’s degrees and from two to three years for those with master degrees. Doctorate research can provide doctorate candidates with high levels of theoretical and empirical studies with independent research capacity which can then lead to further researches or solving more sophisticated problems.
II. HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS
Higher education institutions are structured as follows:
- Colleges can offer college programs and other lower level programs.
- Universities can offer college, undergraduate, master and doctorate programs as assigned by the Prime Minister.
- Research Institutes can offer doctorate programs and in cooperating with universities can offer master programs subject to permission from the Prime Minister.
Higher education institutions that are authorized to provide full-time regular programs can also offer part-time programs on the condition that they the part-time programs are similar to the full-time ones. Part-time students can only be admitted to degree programs in the national education system and there are three modes of delivery: in-service training, distant learning or instructed self-learning.
III. HIGHER EDUCATION DEGREES
Graduates from colleges are awarded with College Diplomas.
Graduates from undergraduate programs are awarded with Bachelor Degrees.
Graduates from master programs are awarded with Master degrees such as Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration.
Graduate from doctorate programs are awarded with Doctorate Degrees.
The Minister of Education and Training is responsible for awarding Doctorate Degrees to students, and Rectors or Presidents of the universities are responsible for awarding master, bachelor degrees and college diplomas to the students.
The Government governs the Graduate Degrees of some specialties.
IV. EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT POLICIES FOR VIETNAMESE HIGHER EDUCATION
1. Development Direction for Vietnamese Higher Education
Vietnam’s policies for the development of its higher education in the period 2001-2010 are based on the following fundamental guidelines:
a) The general directions and strategies for socio-economic development, education and technology, human resource development for the first decade of the 21 century as identified in official documents of the Communist Party and the Government: such as Instrument of the CPV at the 9th General Conference (April 2001), Law on Education passed by the 9th National Assembly at its 4th session (December, 1998), the Planning of Higher Education Institution System for 2001-2010 approved by the Prime Minister in April 2001, the Education Development Strategy for 2001-2010 approved by the Prime Minister in December 2001, the Resolutions of the 9th CPV Congress at its 6th Session about education & training and science & technology, Policies to encourage socialization activities in Education, Healthcare, Cultural Affairs, and Sports approved by the Prime Minister in September 1999. All of these documents have some articles for education in general and higher education in particular.
b) Major trends and achievements and development experiences in higher education in the world at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century represent the second grounds for Vietnam’s education policies. It is always considered an important task to review successful educational development policies in other countries so that they can be applied creatively to the concrete situations in Vietnam. Thanks to this approach, perceptions and ways of thinking have been gained. Literatures provided by UNESCO in Paris and other UNESCO in Asia Pacific regions are important guidelines such as materials from International Conference on 21st Century Higher Education in Paris from 5-9 October, 1998 organized by UNESCO.
2. Higher Education Objectives and Policies
a) Higher education objectives for 2001-2010
The objectives stated in the 2001-2010 Education Development Strategy are as follows: “to provide high quality human resources in line with the socio-economic structure of the industrialization and modernization of the nation; enhance the competitiveness in fair co-operation for Vietnam in its international economic integration; to facilitate the expansion of post secondary education through diversification of educational programs on the basis of a path-way system that is suitable for the structure of development, careers and employment, local and regional human resource needs and the training capacities of education institutions; to increase the appropriateness of the training to the employment needs of the society, the ability to create jobs for oneself and for others”.
To realize such objectives, the higher education policies must target the following new points:
- Training highly qualified competitive human resources responsive to the needs of the society and ability to create jobs for themselves;
- Opening up higher education system to include post-secondary education perception with diversification and standardization of levels, training curricula, flexible pathways among levels and job markets, and the strengthening of training capacities for higher educational institutions.
Attention and priority should be given to some new directions in these objectives: “everybody is entitled to education and life-long learning, the whole country becomes a learning society”.
b) Policies targeted at education development for 2001-2010
In accordance with the objectives, the policies for educational development can be grouped into four categories:
- Structural policies which serve as the focal point for other policies. The structural policies deal with educational levels, specialties, types of educational institutions in relation with social human resource structure in different localities. Further structural improvements are needed to establish a new network of higher educational institutions that consist of both public and non-public institutions with more diversity in objectives and modes of delivery, more pathways to make the system more flexible. This will not only help meet the demand for high level human resource but also provide the people with more educational opportunities and choices, making it easier for the re-structuring of both the human resources and the re-structuring of the economy. This will also help with social, gender, ethnic equity and fairness. According to the 2001-2010 Education Development Strategy, the educational level and quality will be based on international standards so that education can contribute to the industrialization and modernization of the country and the gradual realization of a knowledge based economy and a life long learning society.
- Quality policies form the foundation for all policies towards quality assurance. Higher quality in education is the key factor in ensuring better educational outcomes and the enhancement of competitiveness of the whole economy. Quality policies are based on a new perception that quality must be relevant with the uniformity and diversification of training objectives. Quality assurance process must be carried out at three important points: the input (through selection of students on entrance examinations), training process and the output (at graduation).
Quality assurance must be standardized and modernized on all aspects ranging from curricula, faculties, facilities and investments from the Government and society. One new development in the quality policies is the master frame curriculum for all training programs. These shall be the guidelines for different educational institutions to develop detailed and specific curriculum and syllabuses for each institution. A system of quality assurance based on assessment criteria and quality accrediting process will also be introduced. This will be a combination of institution-administered assessments and external auditing and evaluation.
Quality policies also emphasize the innovations of training methodologies so that students can develop their self-learning and independent research capacities, problem-solving skills; IT skills, language skills, communication skills and they will be able to form their own business and create jobs for others.
To supplement these quality policies, there must be policies targeted at quality assurance, such as criteria for selection of inputs, social equity, training of teachers with standard quality, evaluation of the teaching staffs, incentives for teachers and recruiting young and talented people to work in the higher education system.
Higher education quality implies not only training quality but also research and application quality: "training must be linked with research, application, implementation and technology transfer" and "partnership between training and research institutions and the business sector shall also be formed to solve problems arisen out the labor market and technology market through training contracts, joint research contracts, development of university enterprises etc".
Policies that relate to the improvement of efficiency and effectiveness of the higher education system mainly focus on the appropriate utilization of graduates, the reduction of unemployment rate, further training in responses to human resource needs and the linkages between training and production and business.
- Management policies focus on the improvement of management efficiency with emphasis on the implementation of recent innovation measures such as the standardization and accreditation of higher education institutions, aiming at strengthening educational institutions’ autonomy. Other measures include the standardization of the management staffs, the reforms of financial systems within the higher education system to encourage efficient use of resources; the promotion of socializa-tion of education with the development of non-public higher education institutions, the incentives provided to economic and technological associations to invest in higher education.
The strengthening of the state governance capacity for MOET covers three major tasks: the development of strategy and plans for higher education, the development of policies and governance of training content and quality, the evaluation and inspection. The management policies also pay attention to the collection and processing of educational information to improve governance efficiency. Innovations in the governance of education are considered the key issue which lead to many other solutions.
- International co-operation policies: In the world of globalization and economic integration, the Government supports the expansion of international relations to exchange views, ideas, experiences, advanced progresses in researches, studies, technologies and to enhance mutual understanding among peoples for peace, friendship and co-operation. International
co-operation provides opportunities to mobilize external resources for the development of higher education. The Government also encourages foreign investments in the higher education system in the form of joint training and research programs, foreign owned universities, overseas research fellowships. More importantly, the Government has reserved funds from the state budget to send Vietnamese students overseas to study and do researches in needed areas. Self-funding overseas studies are also encouraged.
The Government also implements policies for good use of foreign aids through bilateral and multi-lateral co-operation schemes with international donors, non-governmental organizations, and loans from foreign banking institutions. A large percentage of these aids and loans is targeted at the capacity building of higher education institutions and contributes to the implementation of strategic objectives for human resource and technology development.