Nguyen Thi Kim Phung, acting director of the Higher Education and Training Department, spoke to Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about recruiting new students
A new school year is to begin for ter-tiary education, but by now, some universities and colleges have not been able to recruit enough students for the 2015-16 school year. In your opinion, what are the reasons?
I don't agree with the idea that only this year, some universities or colleges can't recruit enough students. This problem has been going on for several consecutive years. Student recruitment to universities or colleges this year is divided into four drives, and in the first two drives alone, the number of students successfully enrolled in universities and colleges was 530,000 students – 30,000 students more than the enrollment figure in the 2013–14 and 2014-15 school years.
This is an indication that the number of Vietnamese people wanting to attend a university or college has already reached its climax.
Do you know why the number of Vietnamese students has dropped in the last few years?
So far, no research has been conducted to find the reasons why. But in my opinion, there are two main factors. Firstly, it is due to the low birth rate; and secondly, a high number of university graduates were unable to find jobs after graduation. Annually, the figure is about 100,000.
In addition, the emergence of many new industrial parks with lucrative wages all over the country has drawn in a large number of Vietnamese workers.
Do you think universities or colleges that cannot recruit enough students should be closed down?
Closing a university or college is a very complicated procedure. One of the conditions is that the institution cannot recruit new students. But at present, in the worst case scenario, an institution is still able to recruit 100 students. So, objectively speaking, the founders of private universities or colleges who have spent a huge sum of money to build and run their schools would find it difficult to give up their dreams. We are living in a society ruled by law. So whatever decision we want to make, that decision must be based on the country's laws.
For example, under our current laws, universities or colleges that cannot recruit students for three consecutive years will be forced to stop recruiting students.
If they fail to address the root of the problem, the authorities will then force them to shut down. However, until now, no such case has happened to a public institution. All public universities and colleges are full of students.
The government has recently issued a decree classifying Viet Nam tertiary education into three scientific groups focused on research, application and practice.
So in my opinion, it is time for each university to look at their strengths and weaknesses and decide which group they should join.
What actions will the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) adopt to ensure that students from weak universities or colleges that were merged with other universities or colleges will not be affected during their course of study?
I can assure that the merging of weak universities or colleges with better universities and colleges will not affect the students. For example, in the case of Bac Ha University, the university was forced to stop recruiting students in 2014-15 school year due to its poor infrastructure. In the 2015-16 school year, the university asked the MOET to let it resume its student recruitment, but the request was turned down because the infrastructure improvements had not been made. The answer is that new recruitment will only be permitted when the university has a new building for students. — VNS