Nguyễn Quân. — Photo dantri.com.vn
Former Minister of Science and Technology Nguyễn Quân speaks to Tiền Phong (Vanguard) about the need for policies to convince talented Vietnamese scientists living abroad to return home.
What do you think about the knowledge and professional skills of Vietnamese scientists living abroad?
Vietnamese scientists living abroad are generally well recognised by their friends near and far. For example, in the field of mathematics, Việt Nam has two world renowned professors, Ngô Bảo Châu and Vũ Hà Văn. In the field of physics, we have Professor Đàm Thanh Sơn, who has recently been awarded the Dirac prize. Many people have told me that we should nominate Professor Sơn as the first Vietnamese candidate for the Physics Nobel prize.
Several years ago, when we visited Silicon Valley in the US and companies including Microsoft, Facebook, and Google, we were very happy to meet a number of Vietnamese scientists who were working there, and to see that their skills were highly appreciated by their peers. I had a very pleasant surprise meeting three colleagues who had previously worked with me at the Hà Nôị Bách Khoa University. During our talks, many of them expressed a desire to contribute their knowledge and expertise to help Việt Nam become a prosperous nation.
What should Việt Nam do to attract contributions from Vietnamese scientists living abroad?
Of course, there are various ways to make contributions to the nation from abroad. For example, they could conduct research topics for Vietnamese enterprises or research institutes at home. Or they can contact any of the 21 Vietnamese offices for Science and Technology we have in 12 different countries.
Vietnamese scientists at home can work with their Vietnamese peers living abroad to conduct joint research. Of course, they should write their proposals and ask for financial support from the Vietnamese government. Another suggestion is for personnel exchanges between Vietnamese researchers at home and their peers living abroad.
We should invite Vietnamese scientists residing abroad to be part of the country’s major scientific and technological projects. At present, for big projects, we often have to hire foreign scientists.
So in the long run, what should we do to convince overseas Vietnamese scientists to work in their homeland?
Five years ago when we revised our 2013 Law on Science and Technology, we touched upon this issue. Later on the idea was specified in Government Decree 40/2014/NĐ-CP on the recruitment of talented Vietnamese scientists. More recently, a network of Vietnamese scientists at home and abroad was established. Among the association’s members, around 100 live overseas. This is a good sign. However, in the long run we should encourage more Vietnamese scientists abroad to contribute their knowledge and expertise to make Việt Nam a prosperous and mighty nation. To achieve this target, we have to do the following four things.
First, both the Government and enterprises have to allocate a certain sum of money for the development of technology, including the laying out of basic technical infrastructure for research institutes as well as a budget to pay scientists, researchers and others.
Second, both the State and enterprises should place specific orders with these institutes.
Third, all scientists need a good environment to conduct their research and share/exchange experiences with their peers from research institutes inside and outside Việt Nam.
Finally, all policies enacted by the Government must be workable in reality.— VNS