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In 2020: “Higher education will grow faster”

TDTU students study at the library. Photo: TG
TDTU students study at the library. Photo: TG

On the occasion of the New Year, Canh Ty, the representative of Education & Times Newspaper had an interview with Prof. Le Vinh Danh, President of Ton Duc Thang University.

- In your opinion, what are the achievements and remarkable positive signals in particular and higher education (HE) in Vietnam in general in 2019?

In 2019, Vietnam's HE had a lot of prosperity. Firstly, university autonomy has developed strongly, at least in 23 higher education institutions, and is spreading to the remaining public universities. Secondly, some universities have been ranked among the best universities in the world and Asia such as Ton Duc Thang University, Vietnam National University Hanoi, Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi University of Science & Technology, The University of Danang, Hue University, Can Tho University, and Duy Tan University.

In general, the majority of Vietnamese universities, in rankings, have grown compared to 2018. It is clear that Vietnamese higher education has advanced quite quickly in the region and in the world. Of these, TDTU grew the most spectacularly with remarkable results including increasing 84 places to rank 207 in the top 500 best universities in Asia; increasing 462 places to rank 960 in the world in the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP); and being the first and only representative of Vietnam in the top 1,000 best universities in the world of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) 2019, which is considered the most difficult. In addition, according to Web of Science, TDTU is No. 1 in Vietnam and in the top 25 leading scientific research institutions in Southeast Asia.

Prof. Le Vinh Danh – President of TDTU. Photo: TG
Prof. Le Vinh Danh – President of TDTU. Photo: TG

TDTU is also the only representative of Vietnam to be ranked in the top 200 most sustainable development universities in the world by UI GreenMetric, and in the top 200 universities with the most influence on global socio-economic development (according to Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings).

TDTU is present in all these rankings, as well as the rapid rise is the proof to excellent university governance, right and sustainable development. This is also a praiseworthy achievement for the whole higher education system in Vietnam.

The number of Vietnamese universities participating in school accreditation, program accreditation by international higher education accreditation organizations such as HCERES, AUN-QA, etc. has also increased. It demonstrates that Vietnam’s tertiary education has attached importance to international standards in setting development goals and orientations. This is very valuable because only 5 years ago, most of the universities were satisfied with domestic assessments and enjoyed “having a bath in our pond” to ease, to avoid thinking, and not to work. The change of this view is a great step forward compared to what used to be a long-term habit of higher education in Vietnam 10 years ago, 15 years ago.

Another praiseworthy event is that the Law Amending and Supplementing a Number of Articles of the Law on the Higher Education (Law No. 34/2018/QH14), which came into effect on July 1, 2019, will continue to promote university autonomy strongly. Perhaps there are still obstacles, not timely by-laws and implementation instructions, but university autonomy under the Law is the path that the whole country goes together and moving forward. Therefore, some obstacles may cause risks and the temporary stagnation, but hindering the autonomy needs of the entire higher education system of Vietnam is completely impossible.

- What are your expectations for higher education in 2020?

- We do not only expect but also believe that not only TDTU, but all higher education institutions in Vietnam will continue to grow faster and more firmly on the path to becoming world-class universities the same as universities in advanced countries.

What is the basis for this? We have had TDTU, a fully autonomous university in investment and recurrent expenditure since its establishment. The university has not received any significant funding from outside, nor the state budget. With only excellent autonomy and university governance, within 22 years, TDTU has become the No. 1 university in Vietnam and ranked in the Top 1000 excellent universities in the world by both ARWU and URAP. Thus, money or the state budget is not the most important thing to become a world-class university, but it is rather a mechanism and management capacity.

The mechanism comes from the Law 34/2018/QH14. We are expecting a number of other laws to be quickly amended in accordance with the guidance of Resolution 19/NQ-TW, synchronized with Law No. 34/2018. During this transition period, it is necessary to pilot so that universities can apply to continue to have breakthroughs in both governance and internal mechanism development. Once this is done urgently in 2020, it will surely add more Vietnamese Universities to the Top of the World's Best Universities, as well as there will be many spectacular promotions in these tables.

- Thank you Sir!

Công Chương (Thực hiện)

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From: TDTU