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Policy & Strategy

A new breakthrough in Vietnam Higher Education

It is the first time in Vietnam Higher Education (VHE) history, Council - the highest authority in an University has appeared .The Decree No153/2003 QĐ -TTG on July 30th, 2003 of Prime Ministry issued on "Regulation of University" in which the 29th and 30th Articles regulates clearly the functions and the responsibilities of Council. However, Prime Ministry still allows Ministry of Education & Training to submit a plan of mandate and supplement for this Decree. On February 2nd, 2004, Education Institute and SEAMEO Training Center in Vietnam have organized a seminar on Council Establishment and Development”, some ideas in this seminar have been reviewed as following:

The necessity of University Councili

In fact, Vietnam’s Universities have had their own Council for ages (especially Science & Training Council); however, these Councils mostly have consultant features. Some include Communist Party, Management Board, Dean of Department, local Trade Union, some Doctors and Professors ...but these are Administrative Council. On principles, Headmaster takes the highest power of these.

Why should Council exist in Vietnam’s Universities? According to Dr. Pham Phu (A member of National Council): Vietnam Higher Education has gained important innovations, changed from the State subsidized mechanism to the independent and even pilot self-expenditure mechanism. Therefore, the competence in making decisions in University will be centered on the local Universities itself. In this situation, it is necessary for Universities to accept risks to reform immediately and to make multi-targets decisions ... Only University Council can take over those difficult tasks. Universities are facing challenges such as: quality and finance. In the situation of widen local democracy, it is essential to have a "buffer" for Universities and Headmaster, and it is Council.

The above Decision of Government defined: "Council of University is an Administration organization. It decides big advocates independent right and self-responsibility of universities regulated by State. Under the Article No 30th, the functions, duties, authority, structure, mechanism of Council were defined a lot. However, one problem is that: "How much power does a Council have? How will the roll of Headmaster be when existing Council at the same time?

According to Dr Dang Ung Van (The Officer of National Education Council): "Councils must have their authority but this shouldn't overlap the Headmaster’s roll unless the management will be more difficult". Council shouldn’t and mustn’t interfere into the management of Headmaster unless Headmaster violates the democratic regulations and resolutions. It is necessary to build a consistent mechanism so that Council and Headmaster could not be contradicted on power.

Together with this point, Professor Pham Phu proposed: “Tasks of Council and Principal should not be overlapped .The relationship between and other members are cooperative, not ranking, the relationship between chairman of Council and Headmaster is equal and supportive.

Experiences of other countries

According to educational experts, University’s executive structure in the world is more and more diversified .In general; the most suitable structure is non-benefit (example in Australia, Canada, and America). In Asia countries State-own Institutes changed into independent ones .Its staff are not the Government employees, they are incrusted by local University.

According to Master Nguyen Thien Tong: “China reformed education in the previous decade .At present ,almost public Universities are independent on finance ,gain over 50% revenue .In Malaysia ,the public Universities are socialized ,collectivized and privatized. In order to encourage increasing their earning, the Government allows them to do business, to build company and to increase their fees”.

Mr. Vo Tong Xian generalized characteristics of Council as follow: “Council helps the Headmaster manages all of activities in University, mobilize finance from any fund. The appearance of Council makes sponsors believe in University’s effective finance and invest regularly .In many Universities, Councils have responsibilities to manage business activities as well as to get benefit”

Another important issue is that “How will the members of Council structured?” Mr. Vo Tong Xuan said: “In America, State-owned Universities have board of Regents (BOR) appointed by Sate Governor. A typical BOR has chairman, deputy, a secretary and the chief of the finance Department. Under BOR is the University’s Board. The members of BOR are quite diversified. From the Board of 60 members like Kentucky University to the Board of 8 members like Warn Borough University. These members are chosen from University General Assembly concluding teaching staff, representatives on Traders and Technicans.

The breakthrough for new period

Assistant Minister of Ministry of Education and Training, Dr Pham Do Nhat Tien regarded Council as a “breakthrough” for developing period of Vietnam’s Universities. In order to put concept Council concept into the “Regulations of Universities” signed by Prime Minister, it is a difficult progress during 6-7 years. In order to reform higher education, it is not unable to have UC. It is an important Bridge between Universities and society. We should study the structure, the regulations, and the conditions of Council more carefully before establishing this model.

Believing in the role of Council, Dr Nguyen Kim Dzung (Institute of research education – College of Teaching – Ho Chi Minh) confirmed: “Interested or not, Vietnam Universities must face a lot of challenges if they want to integrate into the International development. More than ever, Ministry of Education and Training should play the role of supervisor than take over the work flow of Universities...”

VNCG-VDC1 - (17/03/2004)

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