Conference PaperPDF Available

Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education

Authors:

Abstract

education against the backdrop of the development and application of the 3rd mission in Western developed countries. The basic question to be addressed is: Can the third mission of universities be developed in the absence of a fully developed 2nd research mission? If so, how? The idea of universitycommunity engagement has been around for a number of years. In the developed countries, universities are embracing a third mission of community engagement and knowledge transfer in relation to a wellestablished second mission of research. Developing countries, however, are still in the stage of learning how to develop their capacity for the second mission. This presents both a problem and an opportunity for a developing country like Vietnam, of particular interest is whether in this context the two missions can develop in such a way to be mutually sustaining and supportive. The paper will present an overview of where Vietnam is presently at with respect to developing the 3rd mission within universities. It will then discuss a program of future research in this area and its importance for the development of the country.
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
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Paper!presented!in!Track!5!at!the!
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EAIR!32nd!Annual!Forum!in!Valencia,!Spain!
1!to!4!September!2010!
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Name%of%Author%
Nguyen!Thi!Lan!Huong!
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Contact%Details%
Nguyen!Thi!Lan!Huong!
LH!Martin!Institute!for!Higher!Education!Leadership!and!Management!
Level!1,!715!Swanston!Street!
The!University!of!Melbourne,!!
VIC!3010!
Australia!
E‐mail:!t.nguyen17@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au!
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Key%words%
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Higher!education!research!design!!
National!systems!of!higher!education!
Research!policy‐national!and/or!institutional!
Mission!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
Abstract%
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Developing*the*third*mission*for*Vietnamese*Higher*Education*
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
Presentation%
1.*The*problem/issue*that*the*paper*address*
Whilst!the!concept!of!‘service’!has!been!a!long!established!component!of!university!missions!
the!idea!of!university‐community!engagement!has!developed!over!the!last!two!decades.!In!
the!developed!countries,!many!universities!are!embracing!a!third!mission!of!community!
engagement!and!knowledge!transfer!in!relation!to!the!well‐established!second!mission!of!
research.! Universities! have! been! significant! drivers! of! economic,! social,! and! cultural!
development!for!the!regions!they!are!located!in!and!broadly!for!whole!nations!(Beerkens,!
2008).!Many!developing!countries,!however,!are!still!developing!their!institutional!capacity!
for!the!first!mission!of!teaching!and!are!still!learning!and!are!exploring!how!to!carry!out!the!
second!mission!of!doing!research!(Bernasconi,!2005).!!
In!Vietnam,!the!missions!of!‘knowledge!transfer’!and!‘technology!transfer’!seem!to!be!the!
desired!goal!for!all!Vietnamese!universities.!While!the!terminology!itself!and!its!relation!to!
universities’!role!sound!very!familiar!to!various! university! stakeholders,!what! and!how!
Vietnamese!universities!have!been!doing!with!respect!to!transferring!knowledge!to!and!
from!the!wider!society!and!engaging!actively!with!the!community!appears!to!be!more!in!the!
realm! of! rhetoric! than! reality.! In! this! context,! it! is! necessary! to! examine! the! current!
situation! of! how! universities! in! Vietnam! have! been! performing! their! third! mission,!
especially!with!a!view!to!look!for!ways!that!can!help!them!develop!the!three!missions!in!
such!a!way!to!be!mutually!sustaining!and!supportive.!
By!reviewing!the!literature,!analysing!policy!documents!and!university!mission!statements,!
and!surveying!position!papers!from!14!key!universities!in!Vietnam,!this!paper!presents!an!
overview!of!where!Vietnam!is!presently!with!respect!to!developing!the!third!mission!within!
universities!and!proposes!a!program!of!future!research!in!this!area.!The!paper!also!outlines!
the!importance!of!the!third!mission!for!the!development!of!the!country.!
2.*The*significance*
While!the!idea!and!practice!of!university‐industry/community!engagement!is!becoming!
increasingly!popular!in!developed!countries!(ACU,!2001),!this!concept,!has!not!yet!gained!
similar!currency! in! Vietnam.! Therefore,! the!study! will!contribute! to! the! current! highly!
generalised! understanding! of! the! development! of! the! third! mission! for! Vietnamese!
universities.!
Universities!in!Vietnam!are!in!the!process!of!building!research!capacity!(Harmant!&!Ngoc,!
2010).! If! the! idea! of! engagement! is! well‐understood! and! embedded! in! how! the! new!
researchers!do!research,!particularly!the!potential!for!applied!Michael!Gibbons’s!Mode!2!
research! (Michael! Gibbons! et! al.,! 1994),! this! has! the! potential! to! develop! a! culture! of!
community!engagement!from! the!design!of!research! projects!to!the! final! application!of!
research!outcomes.!!
Vietnamese!higher!education!is!facing!a!crisis,!for!example,!Vietnam!lacks!even!a!single!
university!of!recognized!quality,!Vietnamese!universities!are!not!producing!the!educated!
workforce! that! Vietnam’s! economy! and! society! demand! (Vallely! &! Wilkinson,! 2008).!
Alternative!solutions!should!be!explored!to!help!the!system!recover!from!lagging!behind!
and!to!catch!up!with!comparable!systems!in!the!region!and!more!advanced!systems!in!the!
world.!Hopefully,! the!idea! of!engagement! can!help! Vietnamese!universities! not!only! to!
generate! new! scientific! knowledge,! but! also! to! wisely! select! and! implement! existing!
technologies,!and!to!effectively!adapt!them!to!local!circumstances!(Altbach,!2007)!
!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
3.*The*background*to*the*problem*
3.1.$Background$of$university6community$engagement$
There!have!been!three!main!viewpoints!of!engagement:!the!democratic,!the!economic,!and!
the!adaptive!one.*
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The! ‘democratic! value’! approach! to! engagement! originates! from! the! argument! that!
universities!should!serve!the!public!good!and!serving!the!public!good!has!been!at!the!core!
of! the! social! contract! with! society! since! their! inception.! Universities! in! Western!
democracies,!the!United!States,!in!particular,!have!traditionally!been!recognized!as!having!
an!obligation!to!produce!graduates!who!have!not!just!acquired!technical!knowledge!and!
skills!but!who!have!the!capacity!to!add!positively!to!the!social!fabric!(Arthur,!2005).!That!is!
why!there!has!been!an!established!tradition!of!civic!engagement!in!higher!education!in!the!
US!dating!from!the!Land!Grant!universities!in!the!19th!century.!However,!recently!due!to!
various!influences!(globalization,!decrease!in!public!funds!for!higher!education),!the!public!
good!of! higher!education,! meaning!the! direct!and! indirect!benefits! to! economic,! social,!
cultural,! and! civic! fabric! and! well‐being! has! largely! forgotten! (Kezar,! Chambers,! &!
Burkhardt,!2005).!In!this!period!of!time,!Earnest!Boyer’s!research!in!1990!to!reconsider!the!
priorities!of!the!professoriate!in!America!seems!to!call!for!reinforcement!of!the!university’s!
civic!role.!
Boyer!(1990)!examined!how!the!work!of!the!academy!has!changed!throughout!the!years!
from!teaching!to!service,! and!then!research.!The! author! found!that!teaching!is! not! well!
rewarded;!research!and!publication!has!become!the!most!highly!prized!and!the!primary!
means!by! which!most!professors!achieve!academic!status.!Therefore,!Boyer!argues!that!
universities!must!recognize!a!full!range!of!faculty!talent!and!perform!a!great!diversity!of!
functions.! A! key! solution! is! to! see! faculty! work! or! scholarship! in! four! separate! but!
interrelated! areas:! discovery,! integration,! application,! and! teaching.! In! other! words,!
scholars!should!‘not!only!skilfully!explore!the!frontier!of!knowledge!but!also!integrate!ideas,!
connect!thoughts!to!action,!and!inspire!students’!(E.!L.!Boyer,!1990,!p.!77).!!
In!the!scholarship!of!application,!the!scholar!is!required!to!move!towards!engagement!by!
asking!‘How!can!knowledge!be!responsibly!applied!to!consequential!problems?!How!can!it!
be! helpful! to! individuals! as! well! as! institutions?’! and! further! ‘Can! social! problems!
themselves! define! an! agenda! for! scholarly! investigation?’! A! clear! message! here! is! that!
scholarship!must!be!useful!to!individuals!and!communities.!!At!the!1778!‘Stated!Meeting’!in!
1995,!Boyer!further!developed!the!idea!of!the!scholarship!of!application,!to!deliberately!
calling!it!‘the!scholarship!of!engagement’!(Ernest!L.!Boyer,!1996).!Quoting!Oscar!Handlin,!
Boyer!(1996,!p.!33)!argues!that!‘[A]!troubled!universe!can!no!longer!afford!the!luxury!of!
pursuits!confined!to!an!ivory!tower!...![S]cholarship!has!to!prove!its!worth!not!on!its!own!
terms,! but! by! service! to! the! nation! and! the! world’.! ! Universities! should! use! the! rich!
resources!to!help!solve!our!most!pressing!social,!civic,!and!ethical!problem,!etc.!
!"(%(73,3+#7%&3#,-%3.%2#(D%3.%(,1'1(+(,-=%-"(%)3/(%3.%6,#2()$#-#($%#,%-"(%9,3D/(01(E0)#2(,%
(73,3+?%
The!idea!of!the!knowledge!society!and!knowledge!based!economy!(Gibbons!et!al.,!1994)!has!
become!a!dominant!paradigm!in!many!parts!of!the!world.!The!path!toward!the!knowledge!
society!has!been!depicted!as!the! way! forward,!bringing! economic!prosperity!and!social!
advancement!in!both!developed!and!developing!countries!(Beerkens,!2008;!Cassity!&!Ang,!
2006;!Etzkowitz,!Webster,!Gebhardt,!&!Terra,!2000).!In!Europe,!at!the!Lisbon!European!
Council!meeting!in!2000,!the!European!Council!set!itself!a!new!strategic!goal!for!the!next!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
decade:!-3%8(73+(%-"(%+3$-%73+&(-#-#2(%',0%0?,'+#7%9,3D/(01(E8'$(0%(73,3+?%#,%-"(%D3)/0%
7'&'8/(% 3.% $6$-'#,'8/(% (73,3+#7% 1)3D-"% D#-"% +3)(% ',0% 8(--()% I38$% ',0% 1)('-()% $37#'/%
73"($#3,;!In!a!White!Paper!on!science!policy,!the!UK!Department!of!Trade!and!Industry!(DTI,!
2000)!notes:!‘the!successful!economies!of!the!future!will!be!those!which!excel!at!generating!
and!disseminating!knowledge!and!exploiting!it!commercially’,!therefore,!‘it!is!not!enough!to!
generate!research!–!we!also!have!to!make!the!most!of!it!to!turn!ideas!into!products!which!
can!improve!our!lives’.!In!India,!the!Delhi!government!has!developed!a!blueprint!for!Growth,!
Innovation,!and!Inclusiveness!(Knowledge!Initiatives!of!the!Delhi!Government,!2009)!with!
an! aim! to! move! from! what! they! term! a! ‘traditional’! economy! to! a! knowledge‐based!
economy.!%
As!knowledge!is!fundamental!to!economic!prosperity!and!a!resource!that!is!the!key!to!social!
advancement,!universities!as!central!sites!of!knowledge!production!and!dissemination!play!
a!pivotal!role!in!the!knowledge!economy!and!knowledge!society!(M!Gibbons,!1997;!Wong,!
Ho,!&!Singh,!2007).!Universities!more!and!more!are!considered!an!effective!driver!for!the!
national,!regional,!and!global!knowledge‐based!economy.!Universities!can!play!a!central!
role!as!‘dynamos!of!growth’!and!they!are!‘not!just!creators!of!knowledge,!trainers!of!minds!
and!transmitters!of!culture,!but!can!also!be!major!agents!of!economic!growth,!responding!to!
the! influences! of! globalisation! and! new! technologies,! and! the! need! to! interact! with!
businesses’!(DTI,!2000,!p.!28).!The!European!Council!(EC,!2003)!also!argues!that!‘while!the!
birth!and!growth!of!the!knowledge!economy!and!society!rely!on!the!combination!of!four!
interdependent!elements,!i.e.!the!production!of!new!knowledge,!its!transmission!through!
education! and! training,! its! dissemination! through! the! information! and! communication!
technologies! and! its! use! through! new! services! or! industrial! processes,! it! is! Europe's!
universities!which!are!the!key!players!in!this!new!process.!!
In!short,!universities!are!increasingly!playing!a!central!role!in!the!knowledge!economy!in!
both!developed!and!developing!countries.!This!vital!role!requires!universities!not!only!to!be!
recognised!internationally!as!credible!in!the!various!fields!of!activity!and!areas!in!which!
they!are!involved!but!also!to!play!an!active!role!in!the!economy!by!creating!stronger!links!
with!a!range!of!economic!partners.!
J,%'0'&-#2(%2#(D&3#,-%3.%(,1'1(+(,-=%-"(%(,-)(&)(,(6)#'/%6,#2()$#-?%
In!examining! the! transformation!of! five! European! universities! in!the! mid! 1990s,! Clark!
(1998,!p.!6)! found!that!public! and!private!universities! have!entered!'an! age!of!turmoil'!
because! demands! on! universities! outrun! their! capacity! to! respond.! The! increasingly!
demands!include:!a!greater!range!of!students!seeking!and!obtaining!access,!the!demand!
from!the!employers!to!train!highly!specialised!graduates,!higher!external!expectations!from!
stakeholders!for!universities'!effectiveness!and!accountability,!and!most!important!of!all,!
the!growth!of!knowledge!exceeding!universities'!resources.!Because!all!channels!of!demand!
exhibit!a!high!rate!of!change,!universities!face!demand!overload.!Therefore,!universities!
themselves! need! to! frame! an! entrepreneurial! response! in! order! to! balance! demands.!
According! to! Clark,! the! five! elements! of! the! entrepreneurial! framework! include:! a!
strengthened!steering!core,!an!enhanced!developmental!periphery,!a!diversified!funding!
base,! a! simulated! academic! heartland,! and! entrepreneurial! culture.! In! this! framework,!
universities!need! to! establish!linkages!with!external!partners!in!order!to!diversify!their!
funding!base.!It!is!critical!for!universities!to!be!effective!and!efficient,!both!for!themselves!
and!for!society.!
In!summary,!facing!a!number!of!both!external!and!internal!forces,!universities!are!required!
to!change!their!operational!response.!In!order!to!produce!more!relevant!graduates,!produce!
more!knowledge!in!the!context!of!application!and!at!the!same!time!oversee!the!process!of!
knowledge!transfer,!universities!have!to!put!in!place!the!mechanisms!that!allow!them!to!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
perform!efficiently!while!being!responsive!to!social!and!economic!needs!and!accountable!to!
external!stakeholders.!Moving!from!an!ivory!tower!to!an!entrepreneurial!paradigm!is!one!
way!forward.! And! this! can! be!done! best! by! being! ‘open!to! outside! influences! and! new!
demands;!relevant!for!the!economy!and!the!wider!society!and!responsive!to!economic!and!
societal! needs’! (Beerkens,! forthcoming,! p.! 2).! Arguably,! an! engagement! agenda! with!
industry!and!community!is!an!effective!foundation!for!the!entrepreneurial!university.!
Definition*of*universityAcommunity*engagement*
The! increasingly! significant! role! of! university‐community! engagement! has! drawn! the!
attention!of!a!number!of!researchers!and!practitioners.!Varying!definitions!of!university‐
community! engagement! have! been! generated.! What! is! evident! from! the! literature! and!
practice!is!that!there!are!different!terminologies!and!understandings!of!what!engagement!is!
in!the!context!of!higher!education.!!
Regarding!terminology,!while!engagement!is!often!referred!to!as!the!‘third!mission’!in!the!
UK!and!the!EU!(Molas‐Gallart,!Salter,!Patel,!Scott,!&!Duran,!2002;!PhillipsKPA,!2006),!for!
example,!it!is!called!‘community!engagement’!in!the!US!(Driscoll,!2009).!In!Australia,!the!
same!mission!is!often!named!‘knowledge!transfer’!(PhillipsKPA,!2006).!
In!terms!of!meaning,!while!the!narrow!definition!of!community!engagement/knowledge!
transfer/third!mission!refers!mainly!to!the!direct!commercialization!of!university!research,!
the!wider!approach!takes!into!account!the!total!contribution!of!universities!to!society!rather!
than!relying!only!on!narrow!indicators!of!commercialization.!In!this!context,!community!
engagement!has!been!defined!as:!
%G-"(%1(,()'-#3,C%6$(C%'&&/#7'-#3,C%',0%(*&/3#-'-#3,%3.%9,3D/(01(%',0%3-"()%6,#2()$#-?%7'&'8#/#-#($%
36-$#0(% '7'0(+#7% (,2#)3,+(,-$H%3)%G-"(% #,-()'7-#3,$%8(-D((,%6,#2()$#-#($%',0% -"(%)($-%3.%-"(%
$37#(-?H!(Molas‐Gallart,!et!al.,!2002,!p.!2)%
G-"(%73//'83)'-#3,%8(-D((,%#,$-#-6-#3,$%3.%"#1"()%(067'-#3,%',0%-"(#)%/')1()%73++6,#-#($%K/37'/C%
)(1#3,'/L$-'-(C% ,'-#3,'/C% 1/38'/M% .3)% -"(% +6-6'//?% 8(,(.#7#'/% (*7"',1(% 3.% 9,3D/(01(% ',0%
)($36)7($%#,%'%73,-(*-%3.%&')-,()$"#&%',0%)(7#&)37#-?H!(Carnegie!Classification!for!Community!
Engagement)!
G-"(%&)37($$%3.%(,1'1#,1C% .3)%+6-6'/%8(,(.#-C%D#-"%86$#,($$C%132(),+(,-%3)%-"(%73++6,#-?%-3%
1(,()'-(C% '7<6#)(C% '&&/?% ',0% +'9(% '77($$#8/(% -"(% 9,3D/(01(% ,((0(0% -3% (,"',7(% +'-()#'/C%
"6+',C%$37#'/%',0%(,2#)3,+(,-'/%D(//8(#,1H!(PhillipsKPA,!2006)!
G$-)(,636$C%-"361"-.6/C%')16+(,-'-#2(%#,-()'7-#3,%D#-"%-"(%,3,E6,#2()$#-?%D3)/0%#,%'-%/('$-%.36)%
$&"()($=%$(--#,1%6,#2()$#-#($H%'#+$C%&6)&3$($%',0%&)#3)#-#($N%)(/'-#,1%-('7"#,1%',0%/('),#,1%-3%-"(%
D#0()%D3)/0N%-"(%8'79E',0E.3)-"%0#'/316(%8(-D((,%)($(')7"()$%',0%&)'7-#-#3,()$N%',0%-'9#,1%3,%
D#0()%)($&3,$#8#/#-#($%'$%,(#1"83)$%',0%7#-#O(,$H%(ACU,!2001,!p.!i)!
It!can!be! seen!that!what!is! common!in!the! various! definitions!of!university‐community!
engagement!is!the!interaction/collaboration!between!universities!and!the!rest!of!the!society!
for! mutual! benefit.! It! seems! that! the! definition! provided! by! the! Association! of!
Commonwealth!Universities!takes!a!more!holistic!approach!to!engagement,!which!clearly!
shows!how!engagement!has!the!potential!to!be!enacted!in!higher!education!institutions.!The!
definition!also!suggests!four!particular!areas!that!one!can!examine!to!ascertain!the!extent!of!
university! engagement:! firstly,! in! setting! universities’! aims,! purposes! and! priorities;!
secondly,!in!relating!teaching!and!learning!to!the!wider!world;!thirdly!in!the!backand‐forth!
dialogue! between! researchers! and! practitioners;! and! finally! in! taking! on! wider!
responsibilities!as!neighbors!and!citizens’.!In!this!paper,!these!four!main!spheres!will!be!
used! to! assess! the! current! state! of! university‐community! engagement! in! selected!
universities!in!Vietnam.!However,!due!to!time!constraint,!only!the!first!three!categories!of!
the!ACU’s!framework!will!be!tentatively!analyzed!for!the!Vietnamese!university!context.!
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Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
3.2.$A$snapshot$of$the$Vietnamese$higher$education$
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Vietnam!has!a!long!tradition!of!higher!education!which!has!undergone!various!stages!of!
development!along! with! the!historical! and!political!contexts! of!the! country:! the!Feudal!
Period!(from!938!to!1847);!the!Period!of!French!Colonial!Rule!(from!1847!to!1945);!the!
1945!–!1954!Period!–!a!mixed!education!system!of!the!French!control!and!the!Vietminh!
control;!the! 1954‐1975! Period!–! the! Soviet!Union! and! Eastern! Europe! model! in! North!
Vietnam! and! the! US! model! in! South! Vietnam;! the! 1975! to! 1986! –! the! Soviet! Union!
influenced!model;!and!the!post!1986!‘doi!moi’!or!‘innovation’!policy!period.!
Before!1975,!higher!education!in!Vietnam!was!influenced!strongly!by!the!colonial!powers,!
as! a! consequence! of! continuous! invasions.! Almost! no! Vietnamese! university! was! truly!
indigenous!in!origin.!As!each!colonial!power!had!its!own!academic!model!and!influenced!the!
Vietnamese! higher! education! system! in! different! ways! depending! on! their! political!
purposes,!higher!education!in!Vietnam!developed!unsystematically.!The!colonial!university!
was!typically! strictly!controlled!by!the!government!and!did!not!have!full!autonomy!and!
academic! freedom! (Albatch! &! Umakoshi,! 2004),! creating! problems! for! contemporary!
Vietnamese!universities.!!
It!was!only!after!1986!that!the!Vietnamese!government!independently!developed!the!higher!
education! system! for! the! country,! as! a! result! of! the! government’s! economic! ‘doi! moi’!!
‘innovation’!policy!and!the!collapse!of!the!socialist!system!of!the!Soviet!Union!and!Eastern!
Europe.!The!government!considered!education!and!training!as!the!first!national!priority!
policy!in!1991.!The!first!Education!Law!was!passed!in!1995,!it!was!revised!in!2005,!and!is!
now!being!revised!again!in!2010.!
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Since! the! beginning! of! the! 21st! century,! the! government! has! paid! greater! attention! to!
developing!the!higher!education!sector.!In!its!‘Socio‐Economic!Development!Plan!2006‐
2010’,!both!quantitative!and!qualitative!goals!for!higher!education!were!set.!In!addition,!the!
Government!of!Vietnam!has!recently!approved!the!Higher!Education!Reform!Agenda!‐!a!
blueprint!for!substantial!and!comprehensive!reform!of!the!system!by!2020.!The!agenda!
develops!a!forward‐looking!strategy!for!the!development!of!higher!education!and!research.!
These! actions! clearly! show! the! strong! commitment! of! the! government! of! Vietnam! to!
improving!the!higher!education!system!in!a!rapidly!changing!economic!and!social!context.!
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%Q3D%)',9$%#,%1/38'/%8(,7"+')9$%%
The!Global!Competitiveness! Report! (WEF,!2009)!shows!that! Vietnam!is!a!factor‐driven!
country,!reliant!largely!for!its!global!competiveness!on!the!availability!of!unskilled!labour!
and!natural!resources.!Vietnam!2009‐2010!Global!Competitiveness!Index!ranked!75!out!of!
133!economies,!of!which!higher!education!and!training!scores!only!3.5/7,!therefore,!ranks!
98/134;!the!quality!of!the!educational!system!places!85/133.!The!report!also!reveals!that!an!
inadequately!educated!work!force!is!the!third!most!problematic!factor!for!doing!business.!In!
addition,!no!Vietnamese!university!has!been!named!in!any!of!the!rankings!of!universities!
conducted!by!popular!international!institutions!such!as!Shanghai!Jiao!Tong!University;!US!
News!and!World!Report;!Times!Higher!Education!Supplement!(THES);!Maclean!University!
Ranking;! and! The! Guardian! University! guide.! In! order! to! improve! the! system! so! that!
universities!can!fulfill!their!missions!and!higher!education!in!Vietnam!can!emulate!other!
systems!of!the!world,!both!immediate!and!long‐term!appropriate!measures!must!be!taken!
at!various!levels!of!the!system.!
8
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
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It!seems!that!all!facets!of!the!system!need!to!be!improved.!They!range!from!infrastructure,!
legal!frameworks,!curriculum,!financial!management,!accreditation!and!quality!control,!and!
human!resource!management.!Only!recently,!has!the!Vietnamese!government!paid!greater!
attention!to!developing!the!sector.!However,!the!results!are!still!very!limited!and!the!system!
is! facing! critical! problems.! For! example,! the! gross! enrolment! rate! is! only! 13%;!
teacher/student!ratio!is!1/28;!lecturers!with!PhD!qualifications!account!for!just!over!13%!
(Dung,!2009).!Many!public!institutions!remain!highly!specialized!and!are!unable!to!respond!
to!market!demands;!Quality!assurance!within!the!higher!education!system!in!Vietnam!is!not!
well‐developed;!Because!research!and!development!(R&D)!in!Vietnam!has!traditionally!
taken! place! in! research! institutes,! few! universities! today! are! actively! engaged! in! R&D!
activities!(WorldBank,!2008).!
In!summary,!in!spite!of!having!a!long!tradition,!Vietnamese!higher!education!has!undergone!
various!stages!of!development!in!tandem!with!the!historical!and!political!contexts!of!the!
country.!As!a!consequence,!the!system!developed!unsystematically,!and!created!problems!
for!contemporary!Vietnamese!universities.!Significant!measures!must!be!taken!to!improve!
the!system! so!that! it!can! serve! socio‐economic! development! needs,! as! required!by! the!
government!and!expected!by!the!general!public.!
4.*Methodology*
In!order!to!assess!where!Vietnam!is!presently!placed!with!respect!to!developing!the!third!
mission!within!universities,!the!study!used!the!engagement!approach!developed!by!the!
Association!of!Commonwealth!University!(2001).!As!stated,!this!framework!of!engagement!
suggests!four! spheres!of!engagement!between!the!university!and!non‐university!world:!
$(--#,1%6,#2()$#-#($H%'#+$C%&6)&3$($%',0%&)#3)#-#($N%)(/'-#,1%-('7"#,1%',0%/('),#,1%-3%-"(%D#0()%
D3)/0N%-"(%8'79E',0E.3)-"%0#'/316(%8(-D((,% )($(')7"()$% ',0%&)'7-#-#3,()$N%',0%-'9#,1%3,%
D#0()%)($&3,$#8#/#-#($%'$%,(#1"83)$%',0%7#-#O(,$%(ACU,!2001);!!
In!general,!the!study!so!far!has!mainly!used!the!desk!research!method:!!
Literature!review:! to!develop! a!general! understanding! of! the! issue,! for! example!
background,!definitions!and!indicators!of!the!idea!of!engagement,!and!a!review!of!
the!Vietnamese!higher!education!system!–!a!brief!history!and!current!state.!!
Documents!analysis!(national!higher!education!policies,!university!documents!such!
as!mission!statements,!visions!and!goals):!to!assess!the!first!sphere!of!engagement,!
i.e.!setting!universities’!aims,!purposes,!and!priorities.!!
Surveying! through! emails:! to! gain! lecturers’! general! perceptions! of! the! current!
situation! of! how! Vietnamese! universities! are! engaging! with! industry! and!
community.!!14!lecturers!from!the!14!key!universities!were!asked!to!reflect!on!their!
personal! perceptions! of! the! current! situation! of! your! university‐
industry/community!engagement!and!recommending!any!outstanding!university!for!
university‐industry/community!engagement?!
I!must!stress!that!this!is!only! a! very! preliminary!exploration! of!the! topic.!A! much!more!
systematic!and!detailed!study!will!follow.!
5.*Findings*
As! mentioned! above,! this! study! is! still! in! its! very! early! stage.! Therefore,! only! some!
preliminary! findings! are! presented.! But! generally,! it! seems! that! Vietnamese! Higher!
Education!has!not!yet!developed!a!comprehensive!approach!towards!engagement!with!the!
industry!and!wider!society.!!
9
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
!
a. Setting universities’ aims, purposes and priorities
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It!can!be!said!that!at!the!national!level,!there!isn’t!any!explicit!national!policy!for!developing!
the!third!mission!within!universities.!However,!the!desire!of!ensuring!that!higher!education!
institutions!contribute!to!national!socio‐!economic!development!is!made!clear!in!the!Higher!
Education!Reform!Agenda!(HERA)!in!2005!by!the!government.!It!was!stated!in!HERA!that:!
the!first!principle!of!HERA!is!to!‘strongly!link!the!higher!education!reform!with!the!socio‐
economic!development!strategy,!the! stability!of!national!security,!the! national!needs!of!
highly!skilled!labour,!and!the!trends!of!science!and!technology!development’.!
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From! a! website! survey! it! seems! that! most! of! the! universities! take! a! narrow! approach!
towards! community! engagement.! Research! on! the! missions! of! 14! key! universities! in!
Vietnam! (including! 2! national! and! 3! regional! universities,! each! comprises! from! 5! to! 6!
university!members,!thus!totalling!37!universities)!shows! that! apart!from!teaching!and!
research,!the!mission!of!technology!transfer!to! serve! the!regional!development!and!the!
socio‐economic! development! of! Vietnam! is! clearly! stated! in! the! websites! of! 32/37!
universities.!Universities! often! align!this! mission! to!their! special!areas!of! expertise,!for!
example,! foreign! language! universities! targeting! meeting! needs! in! foreign! relations,!
exchange!activities,! and! cooperation;! medical! universities!stress! their!roles! in!meeting!
people’s!health!care!needs;!agriculture!universities!focus!on!responding!to!demands!from!
farming! production;! teacher! training! universities! emphasize! their! role! in! providing!
consultancy!for!educational!policy!development,!etc.!
The!third!mission!for!universities!in!Vietnam!is!demonstrated!most!clearly!in!the!Vietnam!
National! University,! Hanoi! President's! Message! on! its! website.! The! President! stresses:!
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The!regional!universities!are!also!well!aware!of!their!roles!in!regional!development.!Hue!
University,!one!regional!university!in!Central!Vietnam,!states!in!its!mission:!!‘-"(%+#$$#3,%3.%
R6(%6,#2()$#-?%#$%-3%-)'#,%"#1"/?%$9#//(0%/'836)C%03%)($(')7"C%',0%-)',$.()%-(7",3/31?%(..(7-#2(/?%
-3%73,-)#86-(%-3%-"(%)(1#3,'/%0(2(/3&+(,-%#,%5#(-,'+H;!The!university!even!has!a!vision!of!
becoming!a!major!component!of!the!regional!infrastructure!in!2020.!In!its!introduction!on!
the!university!website,!Can!Tho!University!states:!-"(%6,#2()$#-?H$%+'#,%-'$9$%')(%-('7"#,1C%
)($(')7"C%',0%-(7",3/31?%-)',$.()%-3%$()2(%-"(%)(1#3,'/%$37#3E(73,3+#7;%J&')-%.)3+%-('7"#,1C%
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In!short,!it!can!be!said!that!universities!in!Vietnam!are!aware!of!their!mission!in!engaging!
with! the! community.! They! are! also! well! aware! that! their! three! missions! of! teaching,!
research,! and! technology! transfer! are! linked! to! national! socio‐economic! development.!
However,!their!approach!to!engagement!seems!to!narrowly!focus!on!technology!transfer.!!
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10
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
It!appears!that!there!exists!a!gap!between!authorities’!aspiration!and!the!reality!from!the!
survey.!A!lecturer!from!a!top!tier!technology!university!noted:!
GB-%#$%D)3,1%-3%$'?%-"'-%5#(-,'+($(%6,#2()$#-#($%I6$-%.376$%3,%-('7"#,1C%86-%#-%#$,H-%-)6(%(#-"()%-3%$'?%-"'-%
6,#2()$#-#($% ')(%3,/?%-('7"#,1% ',0% 03#,1% )($(')7"% D#-"36-% $()2#,1% -"(% $37#(-?% ',0% 73++6,#-?%2#'%
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-('7"#,1C%$3+(% 3-"()$% ')(%$&(7#'/#O#,1% #,%03#,1% )($(')7"% ',0%&68/#$"#,1% -"(#)%D3)9%D#-"36-%+67"%
-('7"#,1N%3,% -"(% 3-"()%"',0C%-"()(%')(% $3+(% 3-"()% 6,#-$% -"'-%+'#,/?%&)32#0(% 73,-)'7-% $()2#7($% .3)%
&')-,()$%36-$#0(%-"(%6,#2()$#-?;%!"(%+'I3)%&)#,7#&/(%#$%-"'-%0(&')-+(,-$%3.-(,%$"#.-%-"(#)%.376$%3,%-"3$(%
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Another lecturer from a regional university commented:
SB%-"#,9%-"(%(,1'1(+(,-%8(-D((,%6,#2()$#-?%',0%#,06$-)?%',0%73++6,#-?%#$%2()?%D('9%8(7'6$(=%
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b. Relating teaching and learning to the wider world
To!renovate!teaching!mechanisms!and!build!the!higher!education!system,!HERA!aims!to!
‘study!the!organizational!models!and!develop!concrete!plans!to!merge!higher!education!
institutions! with! research! institutes! to! strongly! link! teaching! with! research! and! with!
businesses!and!production’!
To!reform!the!teaching!contents!and!methods,!HERA!plans!to!strongly!link!teaching!with!
research,!develop!technology!and!create!jobs!for!the!society!in!order!to!serve!the!socio‐
economic!needs!of!each!specialised!field.!!How!this!is!to!be!achieved!is!an!important!area!for!
further!research.!
How!this!is!to!be!achieved!is!an!important!area!for!further!research!
c. The*backAandAforth*dialogue*between*researchers*and*practitioners*
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It!has!been!affirmed!in!the!Vietnam!Science!and!Technology!Development!Strategy!by!2010!
(Issued!enclosed!with!Decision!No!272/2003/QĐ‐TTg!dated! December!31,!2003!by!the!
Prime! Minister)! that! science! and! technology! development! is! the! first! national! policy,!
foundation!and!motivation!for!promoting!the!country’s!industrialization!and!modernization!
process.!However,!it!is!ambiguous!how!science!and!technology!development!can!do!this!
task.! Surprisingly,! there! are! no! strategies/mechanisms! for! connecting! science! and!
technology!development!to!enterprise!needs.!!
In! terms! of! explicit! objectives,! one! of! HERA’s! aims! is! that! ‘income! from! science! and!
technology!activities,!services!and!products!will!account!for!15%!of!the!institutions’!total!
revenue!by!2010,!and!25%!by!2020’.!
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Although!HERA! set!the!goal!for!universities!to!account!for!15%!of!the!institutions’! total!
revenue! by! 2010,! statistics! from! the! Ministry! of! Education! and! Training,! Science! and!
Technology!Department!show!that,!on!average!only!3.92%!of!the!total!institutional!revenue!
11
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
was!generated!from!research!and!technology!transfer!activities!across!7!university!groups!
between!2006!and!2008!(An,!2009).!!
In!examining!the!role!of!university!as!drivers!of!the!urban!economies!in!Vietnam,!a!World!
Bank! policy! research! working! paper,! Ca! (2006)! found! that! Vietnamese! universities’!
contribution!to!the!socio‐economic!development!of!the!country!is!limited!to!the!production!
of!an!educated!labour!force!rather!than!innovation.!!
In!discussing!how!to!make!research!engaged!more!effectively!with!practice!at!the!national!
conference!on!‘P(.3)+#,1%U7#(,7(%',0%!(7",3/31?%'7-#2#-#($%-3%#+&)32(%-"(%-)'#,#,1%<6'/#-?%
.3)%"6+',%)($36)7($%#,%(73,3+#7$%',0%86$#,($$%'0+#,#$-)'-#3,%'-%6,#2()$#-#($%-3%$()2(%$37#3E
(73,3+#7%0(2(/3&+(,-’!dated!23st!January!2010,!it!was!commented!that!‘'.-()%+3$-%3.%-"(%
)($(')7"% &)3I(7-$% .#,#$"(0C% -"(% )(&3)-$% D'$% K$#7M% &/'7(0% 3,% -"(% $"(/.C% 6$(0% .3)% .#,',7(% 7/(')',7(C%
73,-)#86-(0% -3% -"(% G736,-#,1H% '7-% .3)% )($(')7"()$% -3% '&&/?% .3)% &)3+3-#3,% -3% '$$37#'-(%
&)3.($$3)$L&)3.($$3)$C%"(,7(%7'6$(0%$68$-',-#'/%D'$-(%3.%,'-#3,'/%8601(-’!(Nguyen,!2010)!
Commenting!on!the!nature!of!university‐industry/community!relationship,!one!lecturer!
noted:!‘B,%5#(-,'+C%-"(%)(/'-#3,$"#&%8(-D((,%6,#2()$#-?E)($(')7"%#,$-#-6-(E(,-()&)#$(%03($,H-%)('//?%
(*#$-;%:"#/(%-"(%,'-6)(%3.%-"#$%)(/'-#3,$"#&%#$%-3%8)#,1%8(,(.#-$%.3)%'//%&')-,()$C%#-%#$%2()?%0#..#76/-%.3)%-"#$%
9#,0%3.%)(/'-#3,$"#&%-3%8(%($-'8/#$"(0;%!"#$%#$%8(7'6$(%-"(%(,-()&)#$($%')(%+'#,/?%9((,%3,%$"3)-E-()+%
8(,(.#-$C% -"(?% 03,H-% "'2(% -"(#)% 3D,% P% V% F% 0(&')-+(,-$C% ',0% -"(?% '/+3$-% #+&3)-% '//% -(7",3/31?;%
!"()(.3)(C%-"(?%03,H-%,((0%)($(')7"%.)3+%6,#2()$#-?;%P($(')7"%#,$-#-6-#3,$%',0%6,#2()$#-#($%$((+%-3%03%
)($(')7"% #,0(&(,0(,-/?%.)3+%$37#'/%,((0$;%!"(?%03%D"'-%-"(?%/#9(%',0%D"'-%-"(?%7',C%-"(,%/339%.3)%
#,-()($-(0%&')-,()$C% #.% ,3%3,(% 7')($% '836-% -"(#)%&)3067-$C% -"(?% $-3&%$(')7"#,1HC% a! deputy!head!of!
administrative!department.!
8.*Conclusion*and*program*of*future*research*
The!purpose!of!this!paper!has!been!to!demonstrate!the!importance!of!understanding!how!
Vietnamese!universities!can!better!contribute!to!nation!building!through!explicit!program!
of!community!engagement.!As!stated,!this!study!is!still!at!the!infant!stage.!It’s!impossible!to!
generalize!the!findings!or!draw!any!explicit!conclusions.!However,!the!following!general!
hypothesis!or!heuristic!statements!can!help!guide!further!research:!
A! comprehensive! approach! hasn’t! yet! been! developed! for! the! Vietnamese!
universities!to!engage!responsively!with!the!wider!society!
The!engagement!between!Vietnamese!universities!and!industry!and!community!is!
still!very!weak!and!there!remain!a!number!of!barriers!to!applying!research!results!to!
solve!practical!problems.!
The!idea!of!engagement!is!narrowly!confined!to!technology!transfer.!
There! is! a! wide! gap! between! universities’! desired! goals! and! their! current!
performance!on!engaging!with!business.!
Vietnam!doesn’t!have!either!the!capacity!or!the!time!to!create!the!American!system!
or! to! emulate! systems! from! the! developed! world.! The! country! has! to! look! for!
innovative!ways!to!link!universities!with!society.!
To!help!guide!future!research!on!this!topic,!three!broad!research!questions!are!suggested:!
W; !3%D"'-%(*-(,-%"'2(%-"(%5#(-,'+($(%6,#2()$#-#($%(,1'1(0%D#-"%-"(%D#0()%$37#(-?%#,%'%
)($&3,$#2(%',0%(,-)(&)(,(6)#'/%D'?%-3%73,-)#86-(%-3%-"(%,'-#3,'/%$37#'/C%(73,3+#7%',0%
76/-6)'/%0(2(/3&+(,-A%
@; :"'-%')(% -"(% (,'8/()$%',0% #,"#8#-3)$% .3)%-"(% (,1'1(+(,-% 8(-D((,%6,#2()$#-?% ',0%
#,06$-)?%',0%73++6,#-?%#,%5#(-,'+A%
4; :"'-%7',%8(%03,(%-3%"(/&%6,#2()$#-#($%(,1'1(%+3)(%)($&3,$#2(/?%',0%(,-)(&)(,(6)#'//?%
-3%-"(%D#0()%$37#(-?A%
12
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
!
Some!tentative!ideas!on!how!best!to!proceed!with!the!research!are:!!
Use!the!4!ACU!areas!outlined!above;!develop!a! framework! for!investigating! how!
Vietnamese!universities!are!responding!to!the!needs!and!demands!of!community!
engagement.!
Apply! this! framework! to! selected! universities! through! document! analysis,!
interviews,!and!observation.!
Select!universities!to!be!included!in!the!study!so!that!a!range!of!characteristics!are!
covered:!
o Public/private!
o Research/comprehensive!
o National/regional/provincial!
o Urban/Rural!
o Well‐establish/newly!founded!
!
!
13
Developing the third mission for Vietnamese Higher Education
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