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VIET NAM EDUCATION
 
Introduction

 Since 1996, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cong Hoa Xa Hoi Chu Nghia Viet Nam) has been divided into 58 provinces and five centrally controlled municipalities, namely those of the capital city Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Can Tho, Da Nang and Hai Phong. The President is the head of state. Vietnam is a communist, single-party state, in which the Communist Party leads the government. The French occupation of Vietnam (since 1884) ended in 1945, but only after France had left a strong mark on Vietnam's education system. Until that time it was very elitist in nature, and instruction was given in French. In 1945, president Ho Chi Minh set up a large-scale campaign to combat illiteracy and to popularize education. In 1976, the communist north and the country's south that was supported by the US were reunited, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was declared. Since 1990, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET; Bo Giao Duc va Dao Tao) has been responsible for all forms of education in Vietnam. Prior to that, the responsibility was spread out among several ministries. The duties of the MOET include submitting proposals to the National Assembly (the government) for the founding of new schools or merging existing education institutions, creating and publishing new textbooks and curricula, drawing up guidelines for the admission of students, and issuing certificates and diplomas. Although most higher education institutions are governed by the MOET, a number of them (particularly specialist colleges) fall under other ministries. According to the Education Law of June 1999, the education system is based on socialist education, with Marxism-Leninism and the philosophy of Ho Chi Minh as its fundamental principles. The Education Law of August 2012 (08/2012/QH13) focuses on the new quality assurance and accreditation system for higher education and international cooperation. The universities will also be given greater autonomy in terms of financing, training, research and the awarding of doctorates. One of the trends within Vietnamese higher education is the government’s desire to offer higher education to more students, to be achieved by establishing more education institutions (particularly in underdeveloped areas) and through policy that stimulates the creation of private institutions, which are permitted to make a profit. In 2006, the Hoa Sen private university was founded, and in 2008 the Van Xuan University of Technology. Higher education will also become more international, and Vietnamese higher education institutions will enter into partnerships with foreign partners (e.g. joint ventures, sandwich programmes).

The target of the New Model University Project is to establish four internationally competitive universities with funding from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The four universities that must meet international standards as far as curricula, management and facilities are concerned, are the VietnameseGerman University (cooperation with Germany), the Hanoi University of Science and Technology (cooperation with France), the Danang International University (cooperation with Japan and the USA) and another university yet to be established in Can Tho province (cooperation with Japan and the USA). Under the reform policy pursued by the government since the late 1980s (doi moi), private institutions were cautiously permitted in the 1990s, on the condition that they were not allowed to make a profit. Recently new laws have relaxed the legislation, and private institutions are now allowed to make profits. Although private institutions are mostly primary and secondary schools, there are some recognized private universities in higher education. Education is compulsory for 5 years (for children aged 6-11), during which time education is free for everybody. The official languages of instruction are Vietnamese and English. The academic year runs from September to June. ¢ Primary and secondary education Primary education (tieu hoc) lasts for 5 years, and is intended for children aged 6- 11. Basic (i.e. junior) secondary education (trung hoc co so) lasts for 4 years and is intended for children aged 11-15. Pupils can move on to long-term vocational training courses of 1 to 3 years in length, at vocational training schools. The Bang Tot Nghiep Nge certificate allows students to enter the labour market as educated workers. Admission to upper secondary education requires that pupils pass an entrance examination. General secondary education (trung hoc pho thong, also called ‘upper secondary education’) lasts for 3 years and is intended for children aged 15-18. Students who complete this general education programme are awarded the Bang Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc (Certificate of secondary school graduation). Until around 1997 this certificate was called the Bang Tu Tai or Baccalaureate. The certificate grants admission to higher education in Vietnam. In order to obtain this certificate, students first need to pass the national final examination (Ky Thi Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc), which is divided into six subjects: the three compulsory subjects are mathematics, literature and a foreign language (English, French, Russian, Chinese, German or Japanese). Ed

Students choose the other three subjects out of physics, chemistry, biology and geography. The maximum possible score for each subject is 10, with 5 being the pass mark. Students therefore require a minimum of 30 points to pass the exam.

In terms of level, the Bang Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc is comparable to a HAVO diploma

 

For excellent students admission to a high school for gifted students (trường THPT chuyên) is also a possibility. At the moment Vietnam has nearly sixty of these kind of high schools, some of which use an entrance examination to select their pupils. A list of all the high schools for gifted students in Vietnam nationwide is included at the end of this module

In terms of level, the Bang Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc obtained at a high school for the gifted is comparable to at least a HAVO diploma.

Another possibility for students who have completed basic secondary education is to continue on to secondary vocational education (trung hoc chuyen nghiep), which lasts 3 to 4 years. If the programme follows the general secondary education, it takes 1 to 2 years (or 3 years for some technical specializations) to complete. Students who complete the programme are awarded the Bang Trung Hoc Chuyen Nghiep (Diploma of Secondary Vocational Education).

In terms of level, the Bang (Tot Nghiep) Trung Hoc Chuyen Nghiep is comparable to an MBO diploma at qualification level 2 or 3, depending on the duration and specialization of the programme

Admission to higher education The Bang Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc (Certificate of secondary school graduation) from the general track grants access to higher education. For administrative reasons provisional certificates are issued (Giay Chung nhan tot nghiep PTTH), allowing students to sit any necessary entrance examinations for higher education. The provisional certificate becomes invalid as soon as the definitive certificate has been issued. On the provisional certificates the results of the naThere are indications that the government soon plans to (partly) abolish university admission examinations, and to allow secondary school certificates to play a deciding role in admission to higher education. The Bang Trung Hoc Chuyen Nghiep (Diploma of Secondary Vocational Education) also grants access to higher education, with students primarily moving on to the junior colleges. Until 1996, there was one national entrance examination for higher education, administered by the MOET. Decentralization was introduced after 1996 and lasted until 2002, allowing institutions to determine their own admissions policy. Since 2002 the centralized 3 chung (“3 commons”) policy of the government is applied for the enrolment into higher education. For both private and state institutions the entrance examination is organised at the same date (chung đợt) in July, with the same content/questions (chung đề và) and with the results to be used nationwide (chung kết quả). The institutions have to submit their enrolment numbers (quota) to MOET and will be fined in case of exceeding their capacity. The current enrolment system is quite costly for the institutions, as students submit applications at several universities at the same time to enlarge their enrolment chances and the examination fees are kept low by the institutions. Students with a Bang Tot Nghiep Pho Thong Trung Hoc or Bang Trung Hoc Chuyen Nghiep are eligible to take part in the selection procedures for higher education. Prospective students can obtain a maximum of 30 credits in the National University Entrance Examination (NUEE). They can choose from different subject combinations (“groups”) and are examined in three subjects. For general education subjects there are 5 groups. Group A consists of mathematics, physics and chemistry. Group A1 consists of mathematics, physics and English. Group B consists of mathematics, chemistry and biology, while group C consists of literature, history and geography. Group D consists of literature, mathematics, foreign language. For vocational or art education, there are other groups consisting of a combination of literature with different art subjects (Group N, H, M, V S, R), while Group K consists of mathematics, physics and engineering. For each subject a maximum of 10 points can be obtained. The cut-off mark for admission to colleges is usually around 10 points, while the universities have a cut-off score of 13 or higher. The top universities require around 20 points. The entrance requirements for private institutions are slightly lower than for public institutions.tional final examination for secondary school are mentioned.

Institutions whose enrolment was suspended by MOET in 2012 are the Dong Do University, Van Hien University, Hung Vuong University HCM, College of Information Technology affiliated to the University of Danang), College of Technology (CTECH), Hanoi College of Economics and Technology, Saigon Institute of Economics and Technology (SAIMETE). MOET came to these decisions because either unapproved programmes were offered or the quality of education and facilities was not meeting the minimal requirements. ¢ Higher education Higher education is provided by universities, colleges and academic research institutes. Vietnam has various types of universities: open universities, technical universities, agricultural universities, medical universities and universities of economics. A number of mergers took place in 1995, transforming a number of institutions into the two largest national multidisciplinary universities in Vietnam: the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnam National University Hanoi. At around the same time, more mergers produced other large regional universities, such as Hue University, Thai Nguyen University and Da Nang University. In addition to universities, Vietnam also has specialist colleges, such as teacher training colleges. New higher education institutions have recently been established for the purpose of making higher education more accessible. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) from Australia is the first foreign institution fully financing a Vietnamese education institution, the RMIT International University Vietnam (2001). In 2003, the Eastern International University was founded as part of the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh. It is involved in partnerships with foreign institutions (two plus two programmes) and offers educational programmes with an international focus. In 2004 the Vietnamese German Institute of Education and Research (also known as the Vietnamese-German University) was founded as a cooperation between the Technical University Dresden and the Hanoi University of Technology. It offers German M.Sc. degrees in engineering The British University Vietnam is being set up as a foreign invested university and will offer British (Bachelor) degrees in business and accountancy in the near future. Higher education is centrally organized by the MOET. Provincial boards also exercise a large influence on education. Programmes can be taken in various ways: full-time (chinh quy), part-time (tai chuc; sometimes also translated as ‘in service’) or without an entrance examination, via open admission (mo rong).

A distinction is also made between short-term programmes (referring to the 3-year vocational programmes provided by colleges) and long-term programmes, i.e. 4- or 5- year bachelor’s programmes at universities. Recognized private higher education institutions provide programmes for students who do not make it through the selection procedures for regular higher education. For this reason, the entrance requirements for these institutions are lower than for regular higher-education institutions. There are three types of private institutions: • semi-public (ban cong), which, although managed by the government, require tuition fees; • people-founded (dan lap), which are owned and run by private organizations and are paid for by tuition fees; • private (tu lap), which can be owned by private individuals. This type of institutions is permitted in primary and basic general secondary education. In 2009, Vietnam had 376 higher education institutions: 150 universities (Truong dai hoc) and 226 junior colleges (Truong cao dang). Vietnamese higher education is being given an increasingly international focus. Multiple partnerships now exist between Vietnamese universities and universities from other countries, especially Australia, New Zealand and the United States. For example, Vietnamese students can obtain the Certificate of Foundation Studies within 1 year in Vietnam, which grants admission to all universities in New Zealand. During this programme time is devoted to English language skills, study skills and New Zealand culture. Partnerships also exist with a two plus two structure, in which students study for the first 2 years in Vietnam and the last 2 years abroad, after which they receive their diploma and degree from the foreign institution. The internationalisation of higher education and international cooperation in higher education is supervised by the Vietnam International Education Development (VIED) of MOET, established in 2008. With the internationalisation of Vietnamese higher education relevant legislation became important, Government Decree No. 18/2001/ND-CP of May 4, 2001 deals with the setting up of foreign cultural and educational establishments (FCEs), for example representative offices, joint-venture establishments and independent establishments. A list of joint training programmes approved by MOET can be found on the website of VIED (http://vied.vn/vn/media/tainguyen/tailieuhuongdan/danh-muccac-chuong-trinh-lien-ket-dao-tao-da-duoc-bo-gddt-phe-duyet_5740.aspx) under Danh mục các chương trình liên kết đào tạo đã được Bộ GD&ĐT phê duyệt.

This list is not complete, because it does not include programmes from the two Vietnam National Universities and regional universities, that do not need MOET approval for setting up these kind of international programmes.

University

 Education Until 1997, initial university education was divided into two stages. The first stage comprised 2 years of general higher education, and awarded graduates the Chung Chi Dai hoc Dai cuong (Certificate of Foundation Education). This certificate allowed students to take the entrance examination for the second stage (specialization), but is no longer in use. Currently bachelor’s programmes usually have a nominal duration of 4 years, and award the Bang Tot Nghiep dai hoc (University Graduation Certificate), which states the bachelor’s degree obtained, such as Bachelor of Science (Cu Nhan khoa hoc), or with the specialization named after the degree, e.g. Bachelor of Economics (Cu Nhan kinh te) or Bachelor of Foreign Language (Cu Nhan ngoai ngu). The national universities award certificates with different terminology and layout: the Bang Cu Nhan (Bachelor diploma) and the Bang Ky Su (Bachelor of Engineering diploma). Most engineering and agricultural programmes take 5 years to complete.

In terms of level, the Bang Tot Nghiep Dai Hoc at Bachelor level is comparable to a WO or HBO bachelor’s degree, depending on the type of study and specialization

After completing a bachelor’s programme, students can take an entrance examination and continue on to a 2-year master’s programme. Only students who completed their Bachelor full-time are eligible. The certificate awarded is a master's degree (Bang Thac si). The programme is made up of coursework and the composition and defence of a final paper, and the master’s degree itself is awarded by the rector of the relevant university.

In terms of level, the Bang Thac Si is comparable to a WO master’s degree in a similar specialization.

PhD programmes (Bang Tien si) last 4 years when taken after a bachelor’s programme, and 2 to 3 years after a master’s programme. Until 1976, Vietnam itself had no postgraduate education, and Vietnamese students were sent to places such as the Soviet Union or other socialist countries to study.

Post-graduate education has been offered since 1976 at two levels: the PhD, and the Doctor of Science. The government Decree 90/CP of November 1993 and the Education Law of 1998 introduced the Vietnamese postgraduate levels of Master and Doctor. PhD degrees are awarded by the MOET. ¢

 Higher professional education

 Junior colleges (Truong Cao Dang) provide 3-year professional programmes with a practical focus (short-term higher education) and award the Bang Tot Nghiep Cao Dang (College Graduation Diploma) with the title of college degree, sometimes also translated as ‘associate degree’ (Cu Nhan Cao Dang). These programmes focus primarily on medical, administrative and financial professions. This certificate allows students to continue studying for a bachelor’s degree, for which a maximum exemption of 1 to 2 years can be given, depending on the institution and the relevant programme. There are competitive entrance examinations for these programmes. Students may qualify for exemptions at a junior college if they have a Bang Trung Hoc Chuyen Nghiep, when taking a programme in a similar specialization.

In terms of level, the Bang Tot Nghiep Cao Dang with the ‘associate’ is comparable to 3 years of higher professional education (HBO).

Assessment systems

Since 1993, the MOET has prescribed the following system for all education institutions:

Numerical grade

Description

Meaning

9-10

Gioi

Excellent

7-8

Kha

Good

5-6

Trung binh

Fair

<5

Kem

Fair

The assessment system for higher education was modified in 2006 by the MOET, resulting in the following:

Numerical grade

Description

Meaning

9-10

Xuat xac

Excellent

8-9

Gioi

Very good

7-8

Kha

 Good

6-7

Trung binh kha

Fair good

5-6

Trung binh

Fair

4-5

Yeu

Weak/Fail

<4

Kem

Bad

 

Quality assurance and accreditation The national universities are the most prestigious in Vietnam. Although as yet there are no official institutional rankings, there are developments that indicate that the MOET is interested in setting up a Vietnamese ranking system: in late 2008 an international symposium was organized by the MOET and the Vietnam National University Hanoi, titled ‘University Ranking: global trends and comparative perspectives’. In November 2007, the MOET adopted the Provisional Higher Education Quality Accreditation regulation. This piece of legislation represents the beginnings of a quality assurance and accreditation system for Vietnamese higher education, based on a three-step process: self-evaluation, external review and evaluation, and lastly determination of whether the ten established standards have been met. The Education Law of 2005 (see Sections 17 and 111) and the Education Law of August 2012 (08/2012/QH13) also make mention of the new quality assurance and accreditation system. The General Department for Educational Testing and Accreditation (GDETA) of the MOET is responsible for the new system. GDETA is a full member of INQAAHE. Decision No. 4138/QDBGDDT of September 20, 2010 deals with setting up a quality assurance system and accreditation system. It is targeted at determining the criteria for the evaluation of education programmes, setting up different accrediting organisations, organising professional training of institutional and national quality assurance and accreditation experts and strengthen the international cooperation in the field of quality assurance and accreditation. Two centres of quality assurance have been instituted at the two national universities: the Vietnam National University Hanoi has the Center for Education and Quality Assurance and Research Development (CEQARD), and the Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh has the Center for Educational Testing and Quality

Assessment (CETQA). More information on the CEQARD and the CETQA is available at their websites. See under Useful links. The Education Law of August focuses on the new quality assurance and accreditation system for higher education and international cooperation. An overview of recognized higher education institutions can be found in the paragraph List of higher education institutions.