RMIT Việt Nam Chairman Professor Peter Coloe. — Photo courtesy of RMIT
Established in 2000 as the first international university in Việt Nam, RMIT University has reached its most significant milestone yet celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020. In an interview with Viet Nam News, RMIT Việt Nam Chairman Professor Peter Coloe talked about the University’s endeavours in Việt Nam.
Having seen RMIT’s journey in Việt Nam from the very start, what are your thoughts about its role in the development of the country?
As the oldest and leading foreign university in Việt Nam, RMIT has supported the socio-economic priorities of the country and the positive growth of the region throughout the past 20 years.
Perhaps most tellingly, the University has helped to lift the quality of education and the expectation of high-quality education in Việt Nam. We have done that by setting an example through our own learning and teaching, as well as constant knowledge sharing with other stakeholders.
I’m proud that we have been consistently recognised by the Vietnamese Government as the flagship Australian investment in Việt Nam, and a major supporter of our two nations’ bilateral ties.
I believe RMIT’s unique value proposition as a global university in the region has given us the opportunity to bring together thought leaders from industry, academia and government, and facilitate the adoption of policies that can prime Việt Nam’s regional leadership in a post-COVID world.
How has RMIT contributed recently to the development of the country and the region?
As part of our 20th anniversary agenda, we have co-organised a number of strategic policy roundtables over the past six months.
Our first Vietnam Leads policy roundtable focused on online and digitally enhanced learning and was held in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Training. The discussion convened three levels of government and 18 universities across Việt Nam and Australia, providing an avenue to openly share lessons and innovations that resulted from the rapid shift to online learning amidst the pandemic.
We also co-hosted a Vietnam-Australia strategy roundtable with the Ministry of Science and Technology, where we invited members of the Australian Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce to share experiences of cross-national collaboration in the Industry 4.0 transformation. We also offered our own expertise in establishing the Australian network of Industry 4.0 Hubs and piloted digital technologies in the manufacturing sector.
Just two weeks ago, we held our first annual Smart Cities Forum in Ho Chi Minh City. The event featured discussions and case studies of urban futures presented by top experts from Australia, Singapore, Japan, the United States and Việt Nam, with a focus on key outcomes that are applicable locally.
At the same forum, we were delighted to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee to foster collaboration in some key areas, including international education standards, smart city development, leadership capacity, innovation and start-up promotion.
These are the kinds of positive partnerships that we intend to forge and foster in order to continue making a genuine contribution to the lives of people in Việt Nam and the wider region.
After two decades of growing together with Việt Nam, what can we expect next from the University?
As countries across the world adapt to a mid-pandemic and post-pandemic normality, I believe global universities like RMIT can offer more than just world-class education and student experiences.
We have an opportunity to place our students at the heart of Vietnam’s social development, and we intend to drive higher social impact by connecting the innovative mindsets of our diverse RMIT community to the needs of the broader communities in which we operate.
COVID-19 has also accelerated the digital shift, intensifying Việt Nam’s focus on Industry 4.0, and created new opportunities for digital innovation. As a global university of technology, design and enterprise, RMIT is seizing the opportunity to work with government and industry to drive new ways of working.
We continue to explore the potential opportunities unlocked by digitally enhanced learning, diversify our offerings, and increase our focus on STEM to equip Việt Nam with the skills and capabilities for the future of work.
Our success in Việt Nam is based on the impact we have had on individuals, their communities and the country. With 9,500 current students and 15,000 alumni from our campuses in Việt Nam, RMIT’s impact is already very strong and I look forward to seeing how we continue to build on the foundation of the past 20 years.