Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers whether professors and researchers should be given special treatment, given that many in Viet Nam, even the most respected, live frugally. Most readers said special treatment was unnecessary, but professors should be offered enough income to live comfortably and be motivated to contribute more to society. Here are some of the responses.
Airports play an important role in defining the impression of first-time visitors, and also can give lasting impression on them upon their departure.
Countries have been taking advantage of advertising their popular destinations, products, culture at national airports. For example, landing at South Korea's Incheon International Airport, visitors can take picture with people dressing in traditional royal customs or learn how to make South Korean dolls for free.
Singapore's Changi Airport offers free Singapore tours for travellers who are transiting in Singapore or have at least five hours to spare between the flights.
At Vietnamese national airports, little have been done to promote the country's tourism. There have been some complaints about at Vietnam's local airports, often televisions showcase foreign movies, most products are priced using US dollars and businesses and authorities have not seized the opportunity to advertise tourism, especially when people have free time to wait for their flights.
What was your first impression of Vietnamese airports? What do you think Vietnam can do to market its tourism potential at airports? Have you encountered any experience at Vietnamese airports that you think can be improved to make a better impression about the country?
Emails should be sent to: email@example.com – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, March 1.
Vu Hoang Linh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
In the United States and Europe, professors live comfortably. For example, a full professor in a reputable university in the United States can earn more than US$100 thousand annually (while GDP per capita there is about US$47,000).
So if some professors live frugally, that's generally their choice. But professors and researchers do not generally receive special treatment. There are a lot of funding opportunities and excellent professionals receive big compensation. However, that's the way the market works and not because of the "superior" status of professors.
Professors in Viet Nam, however, receive much less. By lecturing and researching, a professor may receive about VND10-30 million a month. This is not sufficient to keep good ones at universities because those with talent can make a whole lot more if they work for enterprises.
I don't think professors and researchers should be offered special treatment. What's much more important is to pay them good income so they can have a decent living and can focus on their research and teaching.
Lawry Bee Tin Yeo, Singaporean, HCM City
I am surprised to learn from your paper that well known professor Le Van Lan leads a frugal life in a 6sq.m room. This is very upsetting and I wonder what the university where he lectures thinks about it? I believe a respected professor's income should be better than normal lecturers.
In Singapore, teachers and lecturers are well respected and occupy a prominent place in society. They receive a reasonably good income to make themselves presentable in public.
They are proud of their institutions and strive to upgrade education standards. The work of all teachers and lecturers is well recognised and rewarded by authorities. Gratitude and appreciation must surely be shown to those in Viet Nam.
Edward W. Liggett, American, HCM City
American university professors and researchers do not as a rule live frugally on, or off, campus. They are the top of academia and depending on their institution of higher learning, live relatively comfortable lives.
There are two year and four year academic and technical university programmes at city and state levels in the US. Most professors and researchers are required to have a doctorate or be a doctorate candidate to hold a university position.
Their salaries depend on the level of their degrees. A scientist/engineer would expect to receive a higher salary than a professor teaching the humanities, but most are rewarded handsomely.
There are also perks for professors. Many receive family housing on and off campus, unlimited use of university facilities and equipment, a tuition-free education for their dependent children, and an outlet for publishing and selling their books and official papers.
Professors and researchers require students to purchase their books as part of their course of study, and I suspect they have a financial understanding with authors of books they recommend for their course.
University professors/researchers are special and deserve to be compensated. They are the cement that bonds, develops, and advances civilisations. There is no way you can calculate their worth. If they choose to live frugally, it is of their own choosing.
Nguyen Thanh Loan, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I find that professors and teachers in Viet Nam do live a frugal life. Most teachers cannot live on their salaries. Although they devote their knowledge and skills to training generations of students, their pay is inadequate.
It's their passion towards their students, their career and studies that keep them working. Being a teacher will earn you a good reputation, but a good reputation is not going to pay the bills.
Take Hanoi University where I'm currently working. The salary of a lecturer is about $300 a month. Quite a modest figure if compared to many other professions that require intellectual skills. Most lecturers and researchers have to handle more than one job to ensure financial stability.
I think professors and researchers need a better deal. They have made great contributions to the country's development and train skilled resources for society. Offering special treatment to them gives them some encouragement to contribute more.
But professors and researchers also need better working conditions. Many have to work with poor equipment or with outdated facilities. I think it's very unfair.
John Kerr, Australian, Ha Noi
In Australia, anyone who has a full-time job can live quite comfortably if they do not spend too much on luxuries. Professors are respected and receive adequate incomes.
As for Viet Nam, I cannot say for all but I do have a few friends who lecture at universities. They are not rich, but they do not seem to live frugally either. Some do complain about their income, but I don't see anyone leave their job.
And it appears to me that Viet Nam is a country that respects teachers and professors, as my friends receive a lot of gifts on Teachers' Day and sometimes even during Tet. I used to teach English at a language centre and I received some lovely gifts from my students. The gifts were not worth much, but it showed me how much they cared for me, so I was really touched.
I do not think any professor should be given special treatment as the Government's budget is limited. There are awards for those with remarkable contributions already. What's more important is to offer them a good working environment with good equipment and useful books. Regular pay raises are good enough. — VNS