HCM CITY — Hundreds of students and teachers at several private universities, colleges and vocational schools face an uncertain academic year as these institutions close down several faculties for lack of enrollment.
Worse still, neither the institutions nor education officials have a feasible solution to offer.
Several institutions are announcing temporary closure of their faculties and some are even trying to sell them to other institutions. Other institutions are trying to transfer students to other faculties that are still open.
Quang Nam University in central Viet Nam has announced that it would temporarily close its three-year art education programme this academic year because it has received very few applications.
In the Mekong Delta, the An Giang University has said it would close several faculties this year, including computer education, biology and animal husbandry.
Hoang Xuan Quang, the university's deputy rector, said that enrollment to these faculties had been low for several years, but they had tried to maintain it despite many difficulties.
But this year, they could not afford to run them any more, he said.
The Phu Yen University, also in the central region, will close its literature, history, Viet Nam Studies and biology faculties.
At the Hue University of Education, students enrolled in the faculties of industrial technology and agricultural technology will be transferred to other faculties because these two will be closed down.
University officials said the industrial technology faculty needed 50 students, but just seven applicants had applied for it. Likewise, the agricultural technology faculty's enrollment quota was 50 students, but it received just 10 applications.
Hoang Trung Hung, head of Phan Chau Trinh University in Quang Nam Province, said that they also planned to reduce the number of faculties to just four this academic year.
One expert who did not want to be named said many students did not have a clear career orientation and did not mind shifting to other majors.
Those who were particular about the subjects they study could withdraw their applications and applied to other universities, she said.
While the 2012-2013 academic year is already under way since September, enrollment has been extended until November.
Since the faculties are only closed temporarily, they can resume operation next school year, so the institutions typically assign their teachers to evening classes that they run, according to the expert.
The teachers can continue teaching the subjects they have expertise in, and need not be affected badly by the new situation.
Several schools offering two-year programmes are also staring at the possibility of closing down because few students are interested in joining them.
Experts blame the current situation of low enrollment on a glut of institutions that people have invested in, hoping to make a quick buck, aided by lax management by concerned officials.
With every province hosting a university and/or college and vocational schools, it is not surprising that enrollment is low, they say.
There are an estimated 400 universities and colleges nationwide.
Moreover, every university and college tries to offer training in many faculties in order to attract many students, so there is no focus on specialisation, resulting in considerable overlap.
Retired academic Van Nhu Cuong said short-sighted policies of the Ministry of Education and Training and poor management were to blame for the situation.— VNS