Vietnam must invest more in science: professor

The country needs to prioritize investment in scientific research, according to local Professor Nguyen Van Hieu from the University of Science in a recent interview with Sai Gon Giai Phong.

Prof. Nguyen Van Hieu says Vietnam should pay higher salaries to scientists to attract good students to the sector. (Photo: SGGP)

The author of more than 200 published scientific papers says the country has not done enough to encourage young people to enter scientific careers. This is evidenced by consistently low numbers of students applying to science-based universities each year, he adds.

Prof. Hieu partly blames the problem on the low salaries that a career in science offers. Students know they can earn more if they work in information technology rather than studying physics, for example.  

There are also salary discrepancies between state-run companies and foreign invested or private enterprises that conduct scientific research.

Prof. Hieu says it is understandable that Vietnam does not produce a great deal of scientific research since people who work for government-run companies struggle to eke out a living and would rather work for foreign companies which pay more. 

Vietnam pays a heavy price for its shortage of scientists, says Prof. Hieu. Recent, devastating floods in the central region could have been lessened, he suggests, if the country had carried out better research on local reservoirs, where to position hydroelectric plants, and how much water to discharge from the plants after flooding.

Prof. Hieu says the study of terrestrial physics also deserves more investment as previous strategies for dealing with flooding in the central region were first created back in 1967. At that time, floods were not as severe as they are today and scientists considered conducting research on earthquakes to be more important. 

The HCMC University of Science has now established a terrestrial physics faculty and Prof. Hieu suggests it should be mandatory for promising students to study the subject for the good of the country.

Moreover, higher salaries are needed to attract more outstanding graduates in scientific fields. Attracting students to study subjects such as meteorology and storm prediction, for example, could save countless lives, says Prof. Hieu. The government should realize the importance of such investment, he adds.

The country is currently revising teaching methodologies for physics from secondary schools to higher education institutes. Textbooks will be rewritten after new teaching goals are devised, and new material should be included to reflect Vietnam’s current circumstances, says Prof. Hieu.

By Linh An, Thanh Hung - Translated by Minh Long

Other news