US Consulate General hosts conference on Vietnam’s higher education reforms

A conference on Vietnam’s higher education reforms kicked off on Thursday at the American Center under the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

The event, titled “Vietnam Education Dialogue: Higher Education Reforms,” is organized by the Education Dialogue Group with the aim to bring together senior government officials, educators, college and university representatives, and businesspeople to discuss strategies and recommend reforms to Vietnam’s higher education system.

The Education Dialogue Group, established for around one year, gathers educational experts to discuss and give recommendations to develop the Vietnamese education sector.

The first day of the conference, which will run through tomorrow, saw the participation of around 200 educators, including representatives from the Vietnamese government like Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga, U.S. Embassy Hanoi Public Affairs Counselor Terry White, members of the Education Dialogue Group as well as speakers from many universities.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Consul General Rena Bitter expressed the honor of hosting the event.

“We have assembled some very prominent thinkers here,” the Consul General stated. “I am hopeful that this dialogue will result in recommendations that will promote a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam.”

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga emphasized at the event that reforming higher education is an urgent mission and improving the quality of mass higher education in Vietnam has also had its shortcomings.

Meanwhile, Minister of Science and Technology Nguyen Quan expressed his will to hear the educators’ discussion on technology application and scientific research in higher education nowadays.

Prof. Ngo Bao Chau from the University of Chicago, one of the founding members of the Education Dialogue Group, said higher education is one of the most complicated areas in the big picture of education in Vietnam.

“Higher education is perhaps the area needing the most urgent fundamental and comprehensive renovation,” he said.

At the event, the professor who received the prestigious Fields Medal in 2010, delivered his presentation focusing on the differences in the process to select and build up the workforce at Vietnamese universities and schools in developed countries.

The professor emphasized one of the key factors of creating quality universities is the quality of lectures and scientific researchers.

He pointed out some issues affecting the teaching quality that Vietnamese universities are facing, including the complicated salary policy and the red-tape shackled recruitment.

The professor also mentioned that Vietnamese schools have not had policies that encourage foreign professors.

Prof. Chau also recommended solutions for schools to deal with the issues he figured out, like creating a unified process of lecturers’ and scientific researchers’ recruitment for all universities across the country, easing the salary system, and preparing funding to build up the teaching and researching team.

During the two days of the event, educators will deliver their speeches and give presentations on many subjects including university governance and autonomy, financial reforms to enhance quality, equality and effectiveness in higher education, quality assurance and accreditation in higher education, developing faculty members, and integrating private institutes and universities in Vietnam with international elements.


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