I. Globalization and Internationalization
Globalization through internationalization is a vital issue for every country. The economy of each country closely relates to the integration into the region and the world.
Countries such as Vietnam, with its modernization and industrialization policy, must set globalization as a key goal to assist the achievement of its objectives.
Education is also affected by globalization and it is necessary for us to consider the impacts and implications of globalization in the planning of our future education system and institutions.
Our graduates have a right, and a demand to expect to be prepared for working in an increasingly globalized world. For example, an electrical engineer must be familiar with the current best practice technology in the world in electrical power generation, control and transmission because this technology will be utilized wherever a new power station is installed. Similarly, a communications engineer must be familiar with digital communication systems as this technology will be used in any modern system throughout the world.
In order to make our education system more effective, it is necessary to have the students become masters of technologies and practices at the fore front of the global industries, especially for those who work in these areas.
As you know, the impact of globalization on the basic standards of our educational programs and on the nature of educational institutions and their operations.
Internationalization of East – Asian universities can be assisted by the broad communication system which can provide international communication and interaction. Gradually, this system will become a source of international information. It is the technology of greatest change and impact on the future of education. It creates opportunities to reconfigure international education. Thanks to the process of internationalization, our universities can additionally be assisted by joint centers for teaching and research.
So that, if there are some of directions in which universities are required to develop, what tools are available to assist?
A primary new tool is to be the international electronic network created by satellites and optical fiber. It can support co-operative development, particularly in the development of international teaching materials (high quality in some countries). It is likely to change the process of training program delivery. There will be courses and programs that can be coherently and consistently delivered across countries giving rise to international universities that are multinational in function.
Vietnam National University, Hanoi (VNU) has been very responsive to globalization and is strongly committed to working in partnership with other universities to generate mutual benefits.
II. Internationalization and higher education management
In the 19th and 20th centuries, education was considered to educate national citizens and to contribute to nation building. In the 21st century, education in general and higher education in particular continue to realize this objective, but the need in internationalization in higher education is strongly increased. Higher education has a special obligation to promote a "worldwide culture of peace, tolerance, and non-violence", while preparing students for their future in a globalized world, in a knowledge-based society. Universities are in an excellent position to promote peace and mutual understanding through internationalization. As one of universities in East-Asia, VNU can contribute to facilitating meaningful internationalization.
Currently, VNU has established the relations with more than 100 foreign universities and organizations. Particularly, attention is paid to the relation with universities in the region. Many international cooperation projects have been established and implemented. Some results from such international cooperation are as follows:
1. Exchange of students, teachers and researchers. Up to now we have sent about 3000 students, teachers, researchers abroad and also received about the same amount of foreign students and faculty.
In our opinion, one of the effective ways to deliver PhD programs is "sandwich" type. That is students spend half time at home and another half abroad, and he (she) has normally two supervisors: one is in Vietnam and the other in other country.
2. We are carrying out different common education programs with other universities, for instance
- PhD and MSc Education program on applied linguistics: with Melbourne University;
MBA: with University of Hawaii, Touro International University;
Master of System Engineering: with RMIT;
Master of Professional Accounting: with RMIT;
Short courses on information technology: with JICA, Japan;
Short courses on business administration: with Amos Tuck university (USA);
3. Organization of international workshops and conferences. To jointly carry our basic research and organize international workshops, conferences, training courses are an effective way of internationalization. In the last few years VNU and its partners have organized many international workshops and conferences such as the International Conference on Higher Education in the 21st century (more than 80 participants from about 30 countries), the International Conference on Vietnam Studies (more than 600 participants from about 26 countries) and other specialized conferences on natural and social sciences and humanities.
Based on our experience, we would consider two following issues for internationalization:
+ High quality (honor) training programs and programs for talented students in national and key universities
In the conditions of constraints in human and material resources, in order to explore resources effectively, providing society with high quality products, many big universities have introduced high quality training programs.
The honor programs are organized in training cadres for high-tech and key socio-economic branches. The aims of these programs are finding and training capable students by providing them with good learning conditions (the material and technical bases, and faculty) to achieve standard quality of advanced universities in the region (ASEAN, Asian countries).
Since 1997 VNU has provided special programs called “Talented Student Programs”. Those programs are provided for excellent students, aiming at achieving international quality standard. They produce high qualified labor resources in some basic sciences such as mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, biology, and physics.
To be chosen for those programs students must be members of the national teams of contestants of international Olympiads for high school pupils, winners of national Olympiads, or be excellent high school graduates. Other capable students are eligible to attend those programs if they pass special tests.
On the basis of achievements in this kind of high quality programs in VNU, in the academic year 2000, the Government allowed the university to implement the project “Training Talented Human Resources” with state financing support. Up to 15 March 2005 in VNU there have been 1,121 students attending 24 “honor” and “talented” programs, making up 7% of total full-time students (VNU’s report, 2005).
This kind of “talented student programs” then also has been offered by VNU-HCM. In 2003, this university recruited 40 “talented” students for major in “Technique of manufacturing”, 70 for specialty “Information Technology”, 60 for specialties “Math-Informatics”, “Physics”, and 60 for specialties “Literature”, “History”, “Oriental Studies”, “English Philology”, and “Geography”. (http://www.edu.net.vn; 14 July, 2004).
+ The issues of applying credit system
Although the term “credit system” has been introduced into higher education life in Vietnam for more than 10 years, in Vietnamese higher education institutions there are not many people who have enough knowledge and experiences in academic credit system which was originally developed from western universities. So far education administrators and faculty still have an inaccurate image of this system:
- It is supposed that credit system in higher education is a system where each student after completing a course will be given a certificate (chung chi). If a program consists of 70 courses, for example, students must accumulate 70 certificates to be recognized in completing it and to be awarded graduate degree. Concerning the matters such as what course and when they learn a course considered unimportant. One assumes that it is necessary to move to that mode of organizing the training process because it would make the training process flexible, facilitate good conditions for students to raise the sense of initiative and activeness in setting up their own learning plans.
- They considered the learning unit system (hoc phan) advocated by Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) more than 10 years ago the same model as the credit system used at overseas universities.
According to the regulations on curriculum promulgated by MOET each undergraduate program must consist of 210 learning units including 90 units of general education and 120 units of professional education. The length of a course is of some learning units. The courses are of two kinds: required ones and electives. The purpose of implementing a “learning unit system” is two-fold: to provide students with the flexibility in their study to learn more than fixed to academic year subjects, raising their sense of initiative and activeness and to allow students to transfer to other universities or colleges for taking classes at other institutions.
In fact, this system can not help to realize the desire of those people and has not brought any changes in training process at higher education institutions in Vietnam. Students of one year of enrollment still have to learn the same courses offered by university for every academic year. In other words, a class of students entered a program together and stayed together throughout the entire degree program, following the same curriculum. The students’ sense of initiative and activeness have not been raised as administrators and faculty have expected. So far no one among higher education students in Vietnam can take classes at other institutions. The reasons of that situation are as follows:
· Almost all the courses (subjects) in curriculum are required;
· Each week is full with required courses (subjects); students have no choice with other courses they desire to learn.
· Although some institutions announce electives in curriculum, they have not enough faculty to teach those electives;
· Institutions do not have technical staff to organize classes according to registrations of students;
· Infrastructure of institutions can not provide lecture halls for classes as students register.
In fact some institutions use a system, as they call, “mixed annual and credit” one.
Recognizing the inefficiency of “learning unit system” which is considered as “credit system”, many higher education institution administrators and faculty do not want to have further discussions on it and consider credit system not appropriate for Vietnam higher education system.
At present, Vietnam MOET has a plan to set up regulations on organizing training process by the model of academic credit system, to compile texts of instruction to apply this system and the route of applying it in Vietnamese higher education institutions by the end of 2005: By the year 2006, 20 institutions and by 2020 all universities and colleges in Vietnam will have implementing “credit system”.
Higher education in Vietnam is facing big challenges, deriving from great changes in the country and the world. The reform in higher education have undergone up and down steps. They have obtained successes as well as failures during the renovation. The impressive achievements in the renovation period along with the great enthusiasm of the nation, and effective international assistance will effectively help Vietnam’s higher education develop and contribute to socio-economic development of the country and integration into development in the region and the world.
VNU has worked out a route for improving training quality. According to this route, VNU will be among the best universities in the region by the year 2010 thanks to internationalization and cooperative linkages.
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5. Mai Trong Nhuan. (2004). “Internationalization of Higher Education: Some Issues in Policy”, Report in the Workshop AUAP, 2004.