Substandard universities should be closed: NA Standing Committee

Lax management over school establishment in the past several years has led to poor overall training quality, the National Assembly Standing Committee said, asking the Government to close unqualified universities.

The Committee made the statement at an April 16 meeting to hear reports from a supervisory team under the NA Committee of Culture, Education, Youth and Children about the quality of higher education at more than 50 universities across the country.

Poor performance recorded

In the 2005-2009 period, licenses to establish universities were granted loosely, resulting in the creation of many schools that did not meet required standards, the report said.

Many universities, especially private ones, were set up with poor teaching facilities and a lack of qualified teachers. Thus, their training quality has been substandard.

The issue is the responsibility of not only the Ministry of Education and Training but also other agencies, said Tran Dinh Dan, chairman of the NA Office.

He also criticized the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs for allowing vocational colleges to be upgraded to universities too easily.

Students learn at a chemistry lab at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Sciences. Following a report on training quality at over 50 universities, the NA Standing Committee has called for the closure of poor-quality schools. (Photo: SGGP)

Nguyen Van Thuan, chairman of the NA Law Committee, asked, “Is it the right time to set up a ministry, a higher education ministry, to manage issues related to universities?”

The period from 2005 to 2009 saw around 200 new universities and colleges established in the country. However, at present, 20 percent of them are still renting other premises from which they conduct classes, unable to build their own facilities because they cannot afford to. Many schools also fail to meet training quality criteria.

In addition, numerous schools have enrolled large numbers of students, far beyond their capacity. Last year, 32 schools endeavored to enroll as many students as possible with the hope of collecting more tuition fees.

For example, Can Tho University enrolled 88.64 percent more students than the allowable limit, while Phan Thiet University enrolled 91.7 percent more students than permitted.   
 
As a result, many students who scored very poorly on their university entrance exams have been admitted to universities. To attract more students, some schools have even set up new faculties randomly, against national regulations.

The drastic increase in students has also led to a serious shortage of teachers. In the past five years, the number of students enrolled at higher education institutions has increased 13-fold, yet the number of lecturers has only increased 3-fold. Thus, most instructors are forced to teach four times more than the total number of teaching hours allowed.

Teachers also lack the time to improve their professional skills and rely on outdated methods of instruction that lack innovation and creativity.

Decisive action needed

To improve training quality at the country’s higher education facilities, the NA Standing Committee asked the Government and the Ministry of Education and Training to dissolve all poor-quality universities.

The Committee also asked that evaluations of training quality at universities be stepped up nationwide to form a basis for classification of the schools in terms of education quality.

It also called for strict penalties to be issued to schools found violating regulations on higher education or failing to adhere to the commitments they made when first applying to establish their institutions.

Ha Van Hien, chairman of the NA Economic Committee, said the national university system should be re-examined and re-assessed to identify which schools are qualified and which ones are not.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dan suggested setting up an agency that would research and forecast the demand for human resources in all sectors as well as predict economic trends, as a reference for universities to create enrollment plans and training programs.

Source: SGGP, Thanh Nien, Phap Luat - Translated by Truc Thinh

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