In the report reviewing the five-year reform of tertiary education, the Hanoi National University mentioned the removal of the ‘governing body’ mechanism and the application of the autonomy policy as the key to improve the quality of university education.
Fourteen out of 500 universities in Vietnam have tried the autonomy mechanism following the promulgation of Resolution 29.
A ‘quality culture’ has developed, generating competition in quality and encouraging universities to approach regional and international standards.
Hanoi and HCMC National Universities are listed by QS among the top 1,000 universities in the world. The former ranks 139th and the latter 142nd in Asia.
Autonomy has also helped improve the quality of the teaching staff. At the schools operating in accordance with Decree 77 on pilot autonomy, the number of lecturers with professorships accounts for 9.2 percent of total lecturers of the schools enjoying autonomy for more than two years, higher than the 6 percent of the entire tertiary education system.
Autonomy in tertiary education is an important part of the draft law amending several articles of the Law on Higher Education, submitted to the National Assembly’s Steering Committee.
The draft law includes provisions about the conditions to ensure autonomy in the fields of academics, finance, organization and human resources.
It also clarifies the concept of university autonomy. This is the right of a higher education establishment to define its goals and to choose the ways to reach that goals.
Autonomy also means self-determination and responsibility to explain the activities of the establishment based on the law and training establishment’s capability.
However, as commented by Nguyen Ngoc Phu, Vice President and Secretary General of the Vietnam Association for Education Science & Psychology, though autonomy was first mentioned in the first years of the 21st century, it still cannot be applied on a large scale in Vietnam.
After five years of implementation, only 14 out of 500 universities have tried autonomy.
A lecturer at a university in Hanoi said the implementation of autonomy is still ‘messy’ because of the contradictions in laws and lower-level legal documents.
The Higher Education Law is being amended just after five years of implementation because of many unreasonable regulations.
Dang Ba Lam, former director of the Vietnam Education Science Institute, commented that when talking about autonomy, educators focus on issues in financing, enrollment and curricula, not on disciplinary autonomy. Meanwhile, scientific research must be one of the most important tasks of tertiary education.