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University education renovation: old wine in new bottle

Vietnam students

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has announced a series of changes in the university entrance mechanism to be applied to the 2014-2015 academic year. However, the ministry’s efforts have not been highly appreciated.

“With the new mechanism, all the schools feel puzzled with their enrolment plans,” commented Le Viet Khuyen, Deputy Chair of the Non-state owned School Association.

The biggest change of this year’s enrollment mechanism is that there will be 3-4 floor marks for every group of exam subjects instead of a single floor mark set up by MOET. This means that schools would be given more autonomy to decide who to enroll in their schools after considering the criteria suggested by MOET.

However, the ministry’s “initiative” has not been applauded because it does not have much significance.

Prestigious schools, which are always choosy in enrolling students, never care about the floor marks. Only the best students, who get high scores from the national university entrance exams, can enter the schools. And this always means that their scores are higher than the floor marks.

Hanoi National University, for example, only accepts students who achieve scores of at least 17/30 from the exam, 3 points higher than the floor marks.

According to Mai Trong Nhuan, in fact, schools have been setting up floor marks on their own for the last many years, while they do not care about the floor marks set by MOET.

Many good students who received scores of 27/30 on last year’s exam could not enter Hanoi Medical University, because the school only accepted students with a minimum score of 27.5.

Non-state owned schools are believed to be the biggest beneficiaries of the changes by MOET. They have often complained that the floor mark system prevented students from entering their schools, leaving the schools unable to achieve their enrollment targets. Now, with the mechanism removed, non-state owned schools would be able to freely admit students.

However, Khuyen denied this, saying that he cannot see anything new in the enrollment mechanism, and that MOET is only introducing “a new bottle but with the same old wine”.

Khuyen also does not really appreciate the idea of classifying schools in accordance with A, B, C or D groups, saying that in fact, the required marks set by the schools can establish their rankings already.

He has also expressed his concern that MOET is loosening its management over the schools, which he fears will lead to a degradation in the quality of education. One university with an enrollment target of 900 students has been found to have only around 10 lecturers.

Even the Hanoi University of Business and Technology, a private school, which always sets fairly modest requirements on students, does not feel happy about the MOET’s decision.

Kim Son, Chief Secretariat of the school, remarked that there is no need for MOET to remove the national floor mark system, which could help “filter” students, allowing the best to enter universities. (VietNamNet Bridge)

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