Bui Van Ga, Deputy Minister of Education and Training, spoke to the newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) about the need to improve teaching quality at tertiary level
Ten years ago, only one out of 10 candidates sitting for university or college exams passed. But in recent years the successful ratio is about 50 per cent or even 75 per cent. Do you think this implies that examinations these days are much easier than those in the past?
Such a percentage varies between universities and colleges. For example, the pass ratio is just one out of 30 in some prestigious universities.
This does not only happen in Viet Nam, but also in other countries. For example, in France, in order to go to a medical school or a grande e'cole, all candidates have to pass an entrance exam – a very demanding exam.
At some international universities, candidates are not required to sit for any exam. A high school graduation certificate is the only required pass. To my knowledge, the same procedure is applied by some developed Asian universities.
Quite a few universities and colleges are in big trouble as their intended student enrolments are so low. What is your feeling?
All prestigious universities have successfully recruited students, but quite a few, the low quality ones, have few enrolments. So this is a good lesson for them. The only solution for those universities/colleges is to improve their teaching quality. That's the only way to attract students.
In our country nowadays, all young people understand that university is not the only way for their future, but opportunities to get good jobs are more important.
Do you think Viet Nam should start merging low quality universities with better peforming institutions?
From 2001-2010, the number of universities increased like mushrooms to meet the national target of having 200 students for every 10,000 people by 2010. By 2020 the ratio is supposed to be 450 students for 10,000 people.
However, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) realises that with limited input resources, the education sector cannot do this. That's why in 2013, the ministry asked the Prime Minister to adjust the number of universities and colleges. As a result, the number of universities/colleges in Viet Nam is now rather stable.
In my opinion, weak universities/colleges should improve their teaching quality. If their teaching quality is good, no doubt their enrolment target will be met.
In two years – 2011 and 2012, the ministry inspected 87 universities and colleges nationwide and found that many had failed to raise teaching quality. Student enrolments in some universities/colleges was less than 1,000, but there were not enough full time teaching staff.
Does the Ministry of Education and Training have any strategy to improve the quality of universities and colleges in the near future?
To improve teaching quality and to raise prestige, universities and colleges need time and investment – both the teaching staff and their infrastructure.
I think the Law on Tertiary Education and legal guiding documents are good tools for all universities and colleges to develop their own development strategies, including human resource and infrastructure development.
The Government has recently issued a decree classifying Viet Nam tertiary education into three groups. Group 1 will focus on science research, Group 2 will focus on science application - and group 3 will focus on science practice.
So in my opinion, it is time for each university to look at their strengths and weakness and decide which group they should join. — VNS