Universities striving to overcome hardship from Covid-19 pandemic

SGGP

Due to the complexity of the Covid-19 outbreak in Vietnam, students in all universities are demanded to stay home. This has led to several financial problems for state universities, especially those with financial autonomy, and private ones nationwide.

Students of HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy strictly observe protection rules when coming to school. (Photo: SGGP)

Students of HCMC University of Medicine and Pharmacy strictly observe protection rules when coming to school. (Photo: SGGP)

Dr. Pham Hong Hai, Principal of the Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City, shared that even though the revenue of his university is severely reduced as students have a prolonged school break, the management board is still trying in its capacity to buy necessary equipment for its staff to fight against Covid-19. The newest trouble arising at the moment is the preparation and launch of online lessons for students.

Similarly, Associate Prof. Dr. Nguyen Minh Ha, Principal of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) Open University, stated that this institute is encountering certain trouble although it has already had experience in this field. The first one is that not all lecturers are used to teaching online. In addition, an online session normally costs more than a traditional one, not to mention sometimes the bandwidth is overloaded. Finally, its students who live in remote areas find it challenging to participate in these lessons due to a low level of communications infrastructure.

The financial issue of tertiary educational institutes also results from students being allowed to postpone paying school fee, yet universities have to deliver salary to their staff on time.

Associate Prof. Dr. Do Van Dung, Principal of HCMC University of Technology and Education, stressed that financially autonomous universities are the most affected ones since the income decrease obviously leads to a salary reduction to all staff. One more serious factor to consider is the estimated drop-out rate next year due to the unstable economic state of families.

As a result, his university decides to reduce school fee by 8 percent, and is considering to decrease staff salary by 10 percent to share the school’s difficulties. The human resources are instructed to work only on Mondays and Thursdays to cut electricity and water bills.

The case of private universities is not at all more positive as nearly all operation costs of these institutes depend on school fee. Most importantly, many of those are now hiring properties for training, which means the cost will truly become an intolerable burden.

However, they still strive to pay sufficient salary for their staff focus more on e-learning projects while temporarily stopping investment ones to ensure teaching quality. Certain universities such as Hong Bang International University, Van Lang University, Van Hien University, and Nguyen Tat Thanh University decide to reduce school fee by 15 percent to 20 percent to ease the financial crisis among students.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), therefore, has just submitted feasible support solutions for universities to the Prime Minister, saying that businesses are now enjoying benefits from Direction No.11/CT-TTg to cope with difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, and educational institutes should have financial aid as well.

Regarding private universities, MOET suggests prolonging the time to prepare tax finalization for 2019 and exempting tax for the first 2 quarters of 2020. MOET also proposes a payment exemption for social security, health insurance, and accident insurance to all university staff in the first and second quarters of 2020.

MOET recommends that the Government instruct the State Bank of Vietnam to introduce the preferential loan with 0 percent interest rate for private educational institutes to maintain their regular operations like salary paying, property renting, electricity and water bill paying.

The Government is suggested to ask the Ministry of Finance to finance sanitation kits and protection equipment for schools to combat Covid-19.

Finally, MOET wishes the Government to subsidize departments of Education and Training to prepare shared online lessons successfully to maintain the learning process during the pandemic.

By Thanh Hung – Translated by Huong Vuong

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