Boom in English bachelor's degree programmes raises quality concerns

June 03, 2024 - 07:11
Some learners switch from reputable, quality-focused programmes to more lenient ones to bypass quality control.


A forged English bachelor's degree seized by police in the 'degree selling' scandal involving Đông Đô University. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — English Bachelor's Degree Programmes (EBDPs) have skyrocketed in recent years as many people see a second bachelor's degree in English as a 'golden ticket' to career advancement.

However, the emergence of EBDPs with distance learning options and heavily advertised promises of 'easy admission, easy graduation' has raised concerns about the quality of education they provide.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that several universities without a track record of foreign language education are offering EBDPs despite lacking the necessary expertise and resources.

And some learners have taken advantage of this mixed-quality situation to switch from reputable, quality-focused programmes to more lenient ones to bypass stringent quality control.

N.H.L., who obtained a second degree in EBDP, reveals that she opted for EBDP rather than taking the IELTS test because the degree has permanent validity and offers great flexibility for future study and work.

"Obtaining an IELTS certificate of 5.5 or higher to meet doctoral requirements is challenging and delays in thesis completion can result in expired certificates," said L. 

"Meanwhile, a degree offers lifetime validity and enjoys similar recognition as certificates in doctoral pursuit."

The recent 'degree selling' scandal at Đông Đô University has fueled public scepticism about the quality of these programmes.

Some experts suggest imposing a two-year validity on second English degrees, similar to international certificates, to ensure learners continuously strive to avoid knowledge loss.

However, others argue that the proposal would be unreasonable legally and practically, as degrees certify completion of professional knowledge, which remains valid indefinitely.

Nguyễn Đức Nghĩa, former Vice President of Vietnam National University HCM City, believes that if second degrees in foreign languages are allowed to limit their validity, then all second degrees in other fields must impose similar restrictions for the sake of fairness.

"Limited validity on all second degrees is unreasonable," said Nghĩa.

Lê Viết Khuyến, Vice President of the Vietnam Universities and Colleges Association, attributes the rush for second English degrees to job and educational requirements.

"But not everyone has the time to study while working, resulting in degree-holders in name only," said Khuyến.

The vice president suggests requiring proficiency in all four English skills or international certificates for those wishing to pursue a doctorate to ensure they do not obtain the degrees for show only.

Hoàng Ngọc Vinh, former Director of Vocational Education Department, Ministry of Education and Training, emphasises the need for strict quality control on second English degrees.

He urges the ministry to regularly inspect and supervise educational institutions and enforce heavy penalties for violations regarding quality control. He also calls on learners to shift their mindset from learning for a degree to learning for knowledge.

There are two forms of second-degree training: full-time, which involves on-campus classes, and part-time, which involves distance learning.

The Higher Education Law passed on November 19, 2018, states that full-time and part-time degrees hold the same value, facilitating diverse learning paths for graduates.

The training period for a part-time degree in English Language ranges from two to 2.5 years, depending on the programme and the student's first degree. — VNS