Wednesday, December 7 2016

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University autonomy improves training quality

Update: February, 08/2016 - 09:00

Students learn about university enrolment. In the 2016-17 period, the education ministry will give more rights to universities, one of which is to have autonomy in enrolment. — Illustrative photo

Gia Loc-Lan Phuong

HCM CITY (VNS) — Financial autonomy has helped many universities in HCM City improve their facilities, human resources, scientific research and training quality, thereby building a brand name both locally and internationally.

In the last decade, the country's tertiary education has seen many changes.

Universities have been given autonomy gradually over the years by the Ministry of Education and Training.

The Government's Decision 153 on University Regulations issued in 2003 said that universities have autonomy rights and responsibilities for planning, development, training programmes, science, technology, finance, international co-operation and personnel.

Moreover, the Law on Education and the government's other resolutions also encouraged universities to carry out autonomy.

Tertiary education autonomy began in 2006 with financial independence among six public universities.

For the 2014-2015 period, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved other pilot programmes on giving autonomy in making decisions on training, scientific research, international co-operation and higher tuition fees.

Achievements

After four years of operating under the state's allocation for university facilities, staff salaries and other items, the HCM City International University, one of the members of the Viet Nam National University in HCM City, which teaches all curricula in English, asked permission to have financial autonomy in 2008.

Dr Ho Thanh Phong, the university's rector, said that with financial autonomy, the university was given permission to collect higher tuition fees than other public universities without autonomy.

The fee was nearly US$1,600 per academic year, Phong said, adding that was used to develop the university's facilities, including 39 modern labs for practical training, meeting the demand of enterprises.

"With the high fee, the university had sufficient funds to pay staff salaries three times higher. This helped to attract high-quality lecturers. Its number of staff increased from 44 in 2004 when it was set up to 362 in 2015," he said.

When faculty have sufficient income, they have more time to spend on scientific research, which helps the university achieve prestige and attract funds.

They also will spend more time on their own duties in their respective faculties, he added.

Under the allowance of Viet Nam National University – HCM City, the International University also has had the right of autonomy in outlining training programmes, Phong said.

"Autonomy brings large achievements for the university," he said.

As of now, the university's training scale has grown from two to 14 faculties with a bachelor's degree, nine training programmes for master's degrees and one for a doctorate, in its first year after establishment.

The number of enrolled students has increased yearly in spite of the high fee. More than 6,000 students including 30 foreign students are enrolled.

Nguyen Huu Huy Nhut, deputy rector of HCM City University of Economics (UEH), said: "Autonomy is an inevitable trend of the country's tertiary education. That is a deciding factor for the development of a training facility.

"The university's staff believe that autonomy acts as leverage for reaching its target on becoming a major university in the country and in world. One year after implementation, new mechanisms of operation created a basic and solid foundation for the UEH to quickly integrate into the region and world."

A more comprehensive autonomy makes it easier to assess training programmes and open new faculties.

Collecting tuition fees under financial autonomy has helped the university have more funds for upgrading facilities, textbooks and other school materials.

Moreover, it has been able to offer tuition fee exemption and reduction, providing scholarships for learning encouragement, and scientific research.

Like the HCM City International University, the UEH has advantages in attracting human resources with high qualifications and capacity of scientific research.

The university still wants the Government to continue allocating funds for science and technology and training experts after it carries out autonomy, Nhut said.

"The Government should set up a legal framework for universities with autonomy to be able to access official development assistance (ODA) from other countries for training and research projects," he said.

The university also wants to have permission to set up enrolment quotas that match its training capacity, he said.

At a recent workshop on reviewing training at universities and colleges in the 2014-2015 year, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that allocating budgets for universities with autonomy, especially their scientific research, still would continue.

"I expect that more and more universities should carry out autonomy because it is their right and gives them benefits," Dam said.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga said that the ministry would create more policies to help universities carry out autonomy.

In the 2016-2017 period, the ministry also will give more rights to universities, one of which is to have autonomy in enrolment, Ga said. — VNS

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