Speaking at the annual event Vietnam Education Conference, Son said that since 2014, 23 universities in Vietnam had joined a pilot program on autonomy under a Government resolution.

Most of the participating universities have made breakthroughs in their training and research, which helped improve the performance of national higher education, he said.

For example, the universities had attracted more lecturers with PhD degrees, enrolled more students, launched more training programs and the number of their studies published in international academic scientific journals increased 10 times, accounting for 45 percent of the country’s total internationally-published studies.

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Christophe Lemiere, Human Development Program Manager of the World Bank in Vietnam, speaks at the conference on November 27.

Under the autonomy program, the universities reported their revenue and spending increased 1.5 times compared with when they received more State-funding. The funding provided by the Government to them reduced 2.1 times in the last six years.

However, Son said during the pilot program on university autonomy, shortcomings were revealed as the universities had unsustainable finances, with tuition fees still accounting for a high proportion of their revenue at about 80 percent, while earnings from research activities were modest and funding from Government had reduced sharply.

Christophe Lemiere, Human Development Program Manager of the World Bank in Vietnam, said despite the fact that Vietnam’s higher education had been improving, its quality was still lower than those of other ASEAN countries.

After graduating, many students in Vietnam still lacked skills in management or technology, failing to meet the requirements of employers.

Research in higher education in Vietnam was still modest, he said, adding that three ministries – Education and Training, Labor, Sciences and Technologies – were involved in higher education but they had not cooperated with each other effectively.

In the pilot program on autonomy in higher education, the connection between enterprises and universities was not clear, Lemiere said.

He suggested that when universities were given autonomy, they must be accountable, particularly for ensuring training quality.

In addition, Vietnam should increase funding for higher education to about 0.8 percent of GDP instead of the current rate of 0.23 percent.

Vietnam spent up to 20 percent of GDP on education but higher education received only 0.23 percent, he said, adding that the rate was too modest.

A big problem for Vietnam’s higher education was that its revenue heavily depended on tuition fees, he said, calling for more scholarships for disadvantaged students, more loans for students to attend universities and more investment in higher education.

Vice Chairwoman of the National Assembly Tong Thi Phong said Vietnam had kept improving its legal framework on higher education to help it develop.

“Many policies have been developed and implemented to enhance autonomy in higher education,” she said, adding that gaps between policies and practice remained.

“The gaps and challenges drive us to change and innovate higher education,” she said, adding that improving the effectiveness of autonomy aimed to make use of universities’ strengths and then, increase training quality as well as human resource quality.

Source: VNA