VIETNAM: Transforming higher education

Just as Vietnam's economy has been transforming itself over the last few decades, it is now the turn of the country's higher education system. The Ministry of Education and Training has announced plans for a new science university to be opened later this year that will be of international standard and will be the benchmark against which all other science universities in the country will be measured.

The Hanoi University of Science and Technology is aiming to have 10% of foreign students by 2016. It is also hoped that at least 50% of the staff will be of international standard. The aim of the government is to have the university ranked on the list of world-class universities by 2020, and papers and research produced by staff and students to appear in international standard scientific journals.

Addressing a planning meeting earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tien Nhan said he hoped the new university would be the driving force of education reform, become a leading science training centre, and a model "for building other world-class universities".

A committee is to be established to appoint a rector and draft university regulations. This will also be an opportunity for the Ministry to sign agreements with foreign partners who are still being sought as investors in the university. While the Vietnamese government has invested $100 million in the new institution, it will also be financed by foreign partners, including some in France.

The new university is just one of four world-class universities planned for Vietnam. The Vietnam-Germany University opened last year in Ho Chi Minh City. Two more institutions, including the American International University, are currently being planned.

Science education in Vietnam was given a big boost with the donation of a scientific paper written by Emperor Akihito of Japan. The paper was presented to the University of Natural Sciences in Hanoi by Japanese Ambassador Mitsuo Sabaka. The research by the then Crown Prince into the Vietnamese Goby fish resulted in the discovery of a new species in 1976.
*This article is based on news stories published in the Vietnam News on 17 February and 9 March. (