The National Assembly Committee for Culture and Education visits DTU
The problem of creating a standard university model that combines all the elements necessary to guarantee the education of highly-skilled graduates, with basic international knowledge, is becoming increasingly urgent in Vietnam. As the divide between public and private universities is narrowing, a team from the National Assembly Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children (CCEYAC) visited DTU on April 11. Their mission is to amend the Law of Higher Education issued five years ago, which is seriously deficient in the present educational environment, and to find new directions in higher education by studying new models that various universities are currently implementing.
Comrade Phan Thanh Binh speaks
Distinguished Teacher Le Cong Co, DTU President and Provost, and the staff and lecturers of the university welcomed the Committee, which consisted of both national and local members, including Mr. Phan Thanh Binh, a member of the CPV Central Committee and Chairperson of the CCEYAC, Mr. Pham Tat Thang, Vice-Chairperson of the CCEYAC and Head of the delegation, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Quang, a member of the City Standing Committee and leader of the Danang NA delegation, Mr. Pham Tan Xu, Chairperson of the Danang People’s Council Commission for Culture and Society and other members of the CCEYAC and the Danang NA delegation.
In choosing DTU as one of the twenty universities in this survey of 16 public and 4 private universities, the team acknowledged the rapid but effective development of the university over the past 22 years. In his report, Dr. Vo Thanh Hai, DTU Vice-Provost, mentioned the remarkable educational strengths that are not easy to acquire in private institutions. DTU has gone from offering six university-level and two college-level majors at the beginning to a total of 21 majors, with 43 university-level and 16 college-level specializations, in addition to two PhD and four Master’s programs today. Ten of these are advanced and international programs in partnership with well-known US universities, such as Carnegie Mellon University, one of the four leading universities in Information Technology in the US, Pennsylvania State University, one of the five leaders in Management and Hospitality education and one of the five biggest public universities in the US, and California State University, Fullerton and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, leading universities in Construction and Architecture on the US West Coast.
DTU has also recently become a research center, with 486 international publications in ISI and Scopus listed journals so far. Students have won 19 international and 286 national prizes, at the 2013 CDIO Academy Champions Cup at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and at the IDEERS Asia–Pacific Champions Cup in a contest to design earthquake-resistant buildings, held in Taiwan. They were also Vietnamese champions and the East Asia regional runners-up in the 2016 Go Green in the City contest, and came second in Vietnam in the 2016 CTFtime Network Security rankings.
The CCEYAC team (at the top) and DTU staff and lecturers
The strong development of DTU in recent times is due to the support of several local companies, but challenges still remain. “In addition to our carefully prepared short and long-term planning strategies, DTU is addressing all the changes that are occurring in the rapid economic development of Vietnam and the type of workforce required in these times of globalization,” explained Distinguished Teacher Le Cong Co. “All members of DTU are very aware of the quality of education offered at DTU and how it relates to the development of education in Vietnam. We can work to help create the standard university model required.”
Dr. Nguyen Tan Thang, DTU Vice-Provost, had questions about the direction of the future development of the university. “To enter the top 300 of best universities in Asia, schools must meet many requirements, including meeting the required ratio of foreign lecturers and the targeted number of research papers published, in addition to collaborating with international universities. Unfortunately, Vietnamese education still has many shortcomings. For example, forecasting student demand and strategic planning are still not synchronized. Students who study for four or five years are worried that their qualifications will no longer be in demand on graduation. The important issue of how Vietnamese degrees are recognized around the world has not yet been investigated properly. DTU recently launched the motto ‘All for student employment and startups’, but the startup part is still mostly words without a plan for in-depth development focused on results.”
Associate Professor Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Minh, DTU Vice-Provost, is concerned about medical ethics. “Educating a well-qualified graduate must go hand in hand with providing the community with a compassionate, charitable human-being. Society cannot develop if people increasingly lack affection and sympathy, without sharing their lives and careers. This is an issue universities sometimes forget, although it is the main catalyst for success in our work and our lives.”
The issue of inequality in the financial support of education and research between public and private institutions is still a major topic at meetings between private universities and state administrators. In addition to their mission of providing an educated workforce to serve the community, private universities are forced to be overly self-reliant.
“We built DTU to contribute to the improvement of the education in a poor region of Central Vietnam, where local people can barely afford tuition,” said Distinguished Teacher Le Cong Co. “Private universities are currently developing their infrastructure and international relationships to import modern curricula but most have only tuition fees as their source of income. Without fair treatment, private institutions are in serious danger and many are now closing after failing to enroll enough students.”
Professor Vu Xuan Quang, Head of the DTU Institute of Research and Development, added that, “In terms of research capacity, I am certain DTU is equipped to conduct extensive research projects. DTU scientists are currently involved in twenty Nafosted projects, funded internationally, and projects sponsored by ministries, provinces and cites, the majority of which have been well accepted. However, private universities like DTU have fewer opportunities to receive funding for key science and technology projects at the state level.”
Having listened to the opinions of the DTU staff and lecturers, comrade Phan Thanh Binh explained that: “Twenty years ago, we certainly could not imagine such rapid development in the many sectors that the country is now experiencing. This is why, in spite of many achievements in education, there are still so many prevailing issues. Due to globalization in particular, competition for good jobs among the 500 million citizens of the ASEAN block is a matter for serious discussion. A Vietnamese company will quickly hire professionals from Singapore, Myanmar or other foreign countries if our graduates do not have the required skills for the job. So assessing the quality of our workforce is the same as assessing the educational quality of our universities. It can be seen that a number of private universities, such as DTU, have established their own foothold in our education system. The strengths of private schools suggest that there are now effective university management models that the CCEYAC should seriously consider. In 2018, the National Assembly will amend the Higher Education Law. Our assessment of the twenty sample university models will help CCEYAC to formulate practical suggestions for the new Higher Education Law. A university should be self-reliant. It is that very self-reliance that will help to create quality management models in democratic academic environments, to enable staff, lecturers and students to flourish and create a new, truly high-quality education system.”