UNE helps Vietnamese universities build leadership

Published 18 December 2008

Twenty-five leaders of Vietnamese universities and colleges visited the University of New England for two days last week as part of a leadership program involving a week-long study tour of Australia.

The leadership program, sponsored by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, is part of a major Vietnamese Government initiative, called the Higher Education Reform Agenda, which aims to modernise and strengthen the Vietnamese system of higher education and to facilitate a 45 per cent rise in the nation’s tertiary enrolment rate by 2020.

As part of the program, lectures and workshops were held in Hanoi the week before the visitors arrived in Australia. Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, travelled to Hanoi to give a number of presentations during that week – presentations outlining staff development strategies used by UNE. Professor Minichiello is one of several professors from Australia, the United States, Japan, Singapore and Europe who have been invited by the Vietnamese Government to contribute to the leadership program.

‘UNE has been invited to participate in delivering training programs in staff development to rectors and senior managers of universities and colleges In Vietnam,’ Professor Minichiello explained. ‘The Government of Vietnam has recognised the importance of higher education and is introducing reforms to shape the future direction of the nation’s universities.’

Participants in the program examine developments in higher education at a global level, with particular emphasis on the skills required of leaders to introduce and promote higher education reforms.

‘The visitors to UNE wanted to examine alternative ways universities cope with management issues,’ said Professor Grant Harman from the Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy in UNE’s School of Business, Economics and Public Policy. ‘They spent two jam-packed days exploring all UNE has to offer.’

‘They said they were very impressed with the Learning Commons and electronic information resources in the Dixson Library,’ Professor Harman added. ‘They also regarded the facilities in the School of Rural Medicine and the School of Science and Technology as top-notch.’

‘Vietnam has made substantial progress in its tertiary education scheme in the last decade,’ he said. ‘Their government is keen to adopt a Western style of university management. The Vietnamese Government also wants to see a significant increase in the number of qualified higher education staff, and to restructure governance and management mechanisms to create a system where legal autonomy is conferred on individual higher education institutions.’

UNE has a strong link with Vietnam, particularly through the Faculty of The Professions. A large number of Vietnamese students have come to UNE to undertake Master’s and PhD degrees. UNE has offered the Master of Educational Administration degree, which is based in Vietnam, in partnership with the National University in Hanoi.

‘Recent discussions with senior government officials in the Ministry have been held in Hanoi to discuss how UNE, via its innovations in the delivery of PhD courses, can further assist Vietnam,’ Professor Minichiello said. ‘They aim to increase the number of academic staff with doctoral qualifications and increase the research capacity of Vietnam.’

As well as visiting UNE, the delegation also toured the University of Western Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Wollongong.