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How high is the salary expected by university lecturers?

Salaries for lecturers of state-owned universities are based on their service length and contributions in accordance with the wage scale.

Lecturers' income includes salary and non-salary earnings
Lecturers’ income includes salary and non-salary earnings

However, their income might be much higher if counting earnings from scientific research, extra teaching and extracurricular activities.

FPT University’s statement that the minimum salary it pays to lecturers and researchers with doctorate is VND25 million ($1,100) a month has stirred up the public. This is one of the highest official salaries ever declared.

However, it’s unclear if this includes salary and non-salary earnings.

Phan Van Kien, MA, from the Hanoi University of Social Sciences, who has 10 years of experience, said he receives VND7.5 million a month from lecturing hours, including 25 percent allowance. Now he is writing a PhD dissertation.

Asked if he would get higher pay once he has doctorate, Kien said at his school, the pay depends on service length, achievements, initiatives, awards and contributions, not on academic titles.

Lecturers will get a pay rise after a certain period of working. If they have outstanding achievements, they will get a promotion ahead of time.

As a lecturer, Kien must have 270 lecturing hours a year. If he gives extra lectures, he will get additional pay, VND50,000-60,000 per period.

In general, he has to go to the school 3-4 days (11 hours a week). When he doesn’t have class, he spends time on research and extra teaching. He also earns money from research projects and other irregular jobs.

“At Hanoi National University, there are many jobs for us to take to get extra money. The lecturers who have their research works published internationally will be rewarded VND3-15 million. Or we can carry out research projects,” he said.

However, carrying out research projects is out of reach of young lecturers.

A young lecturer in Hanoi said in a local newspaper that she gets VND3 million a month, which is not enough to cover basic needs.

Many experts have criticized the current wage scheme which discourage intellectuals and university lecturers. They said universities cannot attract talented lecturers, and the tertiary education quality is low.

Le Anh Vinh, deputy head of the Vietnam Education Science Institute, said young intellectuals and lecturers should not be too pessimistic about job promotions and incomes.

More than 10 years ago, after Vinh returned to Vietnam from the US, he got a job at Hanoi National University with monthly pay of VND2 million only. The pay later increased proportionally to his responsibilities and contributions.

Therefore, young lecturers need to work hard to get experience, which will allow them to get a higher salary.