Abstract: Today, the globalization is a natural trend of development. Thus, the cooperation between nations and universities in the field of education is necessary for training qualified human resources to meet the high demand of labor market. The education of Vietnam is in the process of an active integration in the region and the world through international relations.
Vietnam National University (Its origin dates back to 1906 from Indo-China University), a leading institution in Vietnam cooperates with more than one hundred foreign institutions. International School (IS) serves as the VNU’s bridge in the development of cooperative undergraduate and graduate programs with the medium of instruction in various foreign languages. IS-VNU has offered ten cooperative undergraduate programs in English, Russian, French, or Chinese and one Masters program in English.
This paper will elaborate the cooperation between IS-VNU and HELP University College that has developed since 2004. The cooperation models between IS-VNU and HELP allow the expectation of high quality programs and reduce the study cost for students. Thus, the cooperation has potential to attract a large number of students. The cooperation has created its initial reputation in Vietnamese society and fits into the global integration policies of Vietnamese government and education socialization in Vietnam
Keywords: Cooperation, undergraduate and graduate programs, cooperative models.
Today, the globalization is a natural trend of development. Thus, the cooperation between nations and universities in the field of education is necessary for training qualified human resources to meet the high demand of labor market. Economy and labor market in the twenty first century gradually blur borders between the nations. Each nation has its people with cultural treasure, knowledge and skills to establish and resolve social-economic tasks and preserve spiritual values. Though Vietnam is a developing country, it is in need a great number of knowledgeable experts of science and technology who are fluent in foreign languages, especially in English. These experts have their well-paid jobs not only in international organizations and foreign companies, but also in the Vietnamese institutions and enterprises. To enhance the possibilities of meeting these social needs, higher education of Vietnam is in the process of active integration in the region and the world through international relations.
1.1. Education System of Vietnam
National education in Vietnam is divided into pre-school education, general education (5-year-primary + 4-year-secondary + 3-year high schools), technical & vocational education, and higher education (undergraduate and post-graduate levels). The higher education consists of college levels (three year duration for high school or professional education graduates). In addition to these programs, there are undergraduate programs either of four to six year duration for professional/high school graduates, or of one to two year duration for junior college graduates, and Masters programs of two-year duration for university graduates and doctoral programs of four year duration for master holders.
Type and network of colleges and universities
According to Vietnam education law, there are two main types of public and private universities and colleges. The public institutions are divided into two categories in accordance to budget allocations from either government or local provinces and cities. Besides, the Vietnam government allows foreign organizations and individuals to establish and operate universities with 100% of foreign investment (i.e. Asian Institute of Technology in Hanoi, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, and so on).
The network of universities and colleges throughout Vietnam consists of 93 universities (71 public and 22 private), 137 colleges (130 public and 7 private) (excluding the institutions of Defence and Security), among which National University in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city occupy the most important position in the higher education system of Vietnam.
1.2. Vietnam National University in Hanoi in the higher education system
Vietnam National University in Hanoi was established in 1906 with its first name as Indo-China University. It is regarded as a high quality higher Education and Research Center, having its reputation in training well-qualified human resources to meet the demand of the industrialization-modernization of the country. VNU has its very special status as an institution equal to a ministry that is managed directly by the Vietnam government.
VNU has 10 training units or divisions, among which there 4 colleges - College of Natural Sciences, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, College of Foreign Languages, and College of Technology, and six faculties and schools including Economics faculty, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education, and International school, Business school, and Postgraduate school. There are 7 research and academic institutes and centers. Besides, there are high schools for talented pupils, specializing in Maths, Information Technology, Physics, Biology, Foreign Languages.
During the academic years of 2005-2006, 2794 teaching and administration staff members work at VNU, including 1756 faculty members (among them there are 262 associate professors and professors , 540 Ph. D and Dr.Sc.). There are 38,281 students, including 18,072 full time students, 4,075 postgraduate students, and 2,363 talented school pupils.
As a leading school in Vietnam, VNU is a pioneer in the education cooperation with foreign institutions. VNU cooperates with more than 100 institutions in the world: in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia, The United States, UK., Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and so on.
VNU has established International School as its bridge in the delivery of cooperative undergraduate and graduate programs in foreign languages. International School offers ten academic programs in English, Russian, French and Chinese, and one master program in English. The School gives its priority to the programs in English.
2. The main features of IS-VNU cooperation models with HELP
The cooperation between IS-VNU and HELP started in August 2004. My paper will focus on the main features of this cooperation.
2.1. Degrees awarded by HELP or HELP’s partner universities.
This feature is very important because it shapes the other aspects of the cooperation models. Students who complete their chosen undergraduate programs can be awarded two respective degrees, one by HELP, and the other by the third partner university. The double degrees enhance the cooperation among partner universities and attract students to enroll in the programs.
2.2. The medium of instruction in English language.
International school offers pre-university English program to enrolled students before they enter in their Foundation Year. They study English language for from 400 to 800 contact hours depending on their language levels when they register in the programs. They are required to meet the language standards as being set up by IS-VNU and HELP in order to progress to the degree years.
2.3.HELP’s franchised programs and standard operating procedures.
- HELP provides curricula of the cooperative programs.
- HELP provides teaching and learning materials.
- IS-VNU monitors the teaching and learning in accordance to HELP’s standard operating procedures.
- Students are subject to meet the requirements to progress in the programs and to be awarded degrees.
2.4. The quality assurance and teaching and learning standard.
2.4.1. Lecturers are recommended by IS-VNU and accepted by HELP and are required to commit the followings:
- Deliver the programs in accordance to HELP’s curricula and subject outlines.
- Contact with HELP’s subject coordinators when necessary on the teaching, assignments and exams.
- Mark the exam scripts for the first time and give comments on the exam marks at the second time by HELP’s lecturers.
2.4.2. HELP’s lecturers do the followings:
- Conduct 20 hour revision of each subject.
- Mark the exam scripts for the second time.
- Contact with IS-VNU’ lecturers on teaching activities and fulfill their obligations in accordance to HELP’s teaching standards.
2.4.3. Students have their following rights:
- They are provided sufficiently information on the programs and awarded respective degrees.
- They are allowed to use learning equipment and resources as required by the programs.
- They study for 20-30% of contact hours more in comparison to the original curricula.
- Students are subject to follow up all the regulations that are applied to the students’ honor codes in terms of assignments and exams.
- Students who meet the requirements are eligible to progress in the programs.
2.5 The flexibility of academic models
0+4 model: Students who complete the English language program and get the score of 6.0 IELTS study for their degree years at HELP or at HELP and HELP’s partners.
1+3 model: Students study for their Foundation Year at IS-VNU and 3 degree years at HELP, or partly at HELP and then complete their programs at HELP’s partners.
2+2 model: Students study for the first 2 years at IS-VNU and the rest 2 years at HELP; or one year at HELP and the final year at its partners.
3+1 model: Students study for 3 years at IS-VNU and final year at HELP.
4+0 model: The full program is conducted in Vietnam. According to this model, students complete the programs and are awarded one degree by HELP or two degrees by HELP and HELP-IS’ partner.
2.6. Full tuition socialization
The cost of the cooperative programs is covered by students’ tuitions.
IS-VNU is not funded by the Vietnamese government for its cooperative programs with foreign institutions, even though IS is a state-owned institution - a part of VNU. In terms of finance, IS operates its academic programs on the base of a non-profit institution.
The students’ tuitions while they study in Vietnam are set up and monitored by IS-VNU.
The students’ tuitions while they study at HELP and other partner universities are regulated by these universities.
IS-VNU will transfer the fee for the franchised programs to its partner universities according to their agreements.
3. The development prospect of the cooperative programs
IS-VNU imports and HELP exports academic franchised programs into Vietnam in accordance to social needs and integration policies of Vietnam. The labor market in Vietnam for thousand joint venture companies or companies with 100% foreign investments, imported production chains, and with a specific management system needs a great number of well-qualified engineers, managers, and economists. These specialists have been trained in various domestic and foreign institutions. Due to the cooperative programs, the education system of Vietnam in general and of VNU in particular is diversified and pushes forward the integration process in the region and the world.
The instruction and learning medium in English language can be seen as a strong ethos of the program model. English is the leading language among the four foreign languages including English, Russian, French, and Chinese that are taught at schools and universities in Vietnam. Furthermore, it is an expectation that English will become the second language, not only as a foreign language in Vietnam.
The flexible models of the cooperation (0+4, 1+3, 2+2, 3+1; 4+0) among three partner universities create variety of learning opportunities for Vietnamese youth. The first stage of the cooperative programs that students study in Vietnam is considered as the transition period for them to be proficient in English and be familiar with foreign education systems, and at the same time, they can save the living and learning cost. Thus, these models are actively supported by the Vietnamese society.
The socialization in terms of tuitions reaffirms the stability and the long term of the cooperation models. However, the tuitions are still high that the students of wealthy families can afford their study. The GDP per capita in 2005 is 640 US dollars. In the short term, IS-VNU and its partners seek the ways to reduce the tuitions, or at least not to increase the tuitions in order to attract a big number of students to enroll in the programs. I can see a development prospect of the programs through the increasing number of students. For the academic years of 2004-2005 and at the first intake, there are 60 students, for the years of 2005-2006 and at the second intake, there are more than 100 students. One more factor to make the cooperation model between IS and HELP optimistic is that the annual economic growth in Vietnam is 8% and that more families can support their children to study in the cooperative programs.
The multi-university cooperation creates opportunities for each partner to expand the education market in Vietnam. Today, universities and colleges in Vietnam accept only 25 % of applications. The rest looks for different ways to continue their higher education or professional training. There are only a small number of students who can afford to study abroad (the total is about 40,000 Vietnamese students study overseas).
The cooperation models between IS-VNU and HELP have their expectation to ensure high quality programs and to save the study cost for students. Thus, the models attract students to enroll. The cooperation models between IS-VNU and HELP have their initial reputation in society and fit in the integration policies of Vietnamese government and socialization in the field of education. ¨