Autonomy crucial to improve higher education: Deputy PM

March 21, 2016 - 11:23

Autonomy necessary for universities; drastic measures required to raise the quality of higher education, says Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam

Increased autonomy would allow universities the right to open their own training courses, build curricula, and choose methods to reform and improve training quality. — Photo

HÀ NỘI ­­– Autonomy is necessary for universities, and drastic measures are required to improve the quality of higher education, according to Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam.

The Deputy PM spoke with relevant ministries and 13 universities at a Friday working session. Meeting participants reviewed one-year implementation of the Government’s Resolution 77. The resolution discussed concerns trial reform of public tertiary education institutions’ operating mechanisms from 2014 through 2017. 

According to the Ministry of Education and Training, under Resolution 77 the Prime Minister authorised 13 public universities to trial new operating mechanisms. Most of the participating universities are involved in economic training. 
Increased autonomy would allow universities the right to open their own training courses, build curricula, and choose methods to reform and improve training quality, according to the assessment of representatives from 13 universities.

Initial results indicate positive impacts on training, number of students enrolled, finances, and personnel. Quite a few schools also built their own enrollment projects and accelerated scientific research, the Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper reported.

HCM City University of Industry co-ordinated with its partners to study, manufacture, and transfer research products. Vietnam National University of Agriculture carried out scientific research which was later implemented in enterprises.

“With increased autonomy, the school has more flexibility to develop training syllabuses which satisfy social requirements.  So less time is needed to publicise a new training discipline,"  says Prof. Nguyễn Đông Phong, head of University of Economics, HCM City.

Deputy minister of education and training Bùi Văn Ga reported that 7 of the 13 universities set up their own councils, streamlined their school systems, and added a number of competent lecturers and specialists.The schools have set aside at least 8 per cent of tuition fees for student assistance funds; and employee income in these institutes also increased, according to Bùi Văn Ga.

During the Friday working session, university representatives made numerous proposals. These draft proposals related to scientific research spending, exemption from income tax  for bank savings interest, access to ODA (Official Development Assistance) capital for investment, additional regulations on financial management, and other related issues.

But the Deputy PM stressed that most of the universities in the pilot programme have yet to fully exercise their autonomy. He emphasised that autonomy does not mean universities can do whatever they want, without State control. Autonomy must co-exist with accountability, to ensure education quality.
According to the Deputy PM, the Ministry of Education and Training will enforce compulsory regulations for universities. Based on these regualtions, universities will conduct public self-evaluations of their own quality. School boards will be responsible to deal with major issues, including science development orientations and personnel investment. 
There should also be a monitoring mechanism, separate from the executive apparatus, said the Deputy PM. – VNS