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Vietnamese regulations trip up US professor

Last update: 07:09 | 14/05/2018

VietNamNet Bridge - Truong Nguyen Thanh, a Vietnamese-born US professor, has left Vietnam for the US after being turned down for the post of rector of Hoa Sen University.


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Prof Truong Nguyen Thanh



Thanh was a professor at University of Utah before coming to Vietnam to work as vice rector of Hoa Sen University. After one year, Thanh was appointed by the school’s board of management to the post of rector. 

The school sent a dispatch to the HCMC People’s Committee and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), asking to recognize Thanh as the rector.

However, Thanh did not meet the requirements stipulated in the Higher Education Law to be appointed a rector of a university.

Thanh was a professor at University of Utah before coming to Vietnam to work as vice rector of Hoa Sen University. After one year, Thanh was appointed by the school’s board of management to the post of rector. 

Article 20 of the law stipulates that besides good political and professional virtues, and good health, candidates must have at least five years of managerial experience.

The document the HCMC Education & Training Department sent to the HCMC People’s Committee pointed out that at the University of Utah, Thanh was chair of some committees and professional teams, not of faculties or divisions of the school. 

No legal document exists that compares committees at universities in the US with  universities in Vietnam. 

The argument has been facing criticism from the public. The rector of a university in HCMC said the regulation on 5-year managerial experience is out of date and Vietnam needs to remove it if it wants to attract foreign and overseas-Vietnamese academics.

“I suggest that they amend the Higher Education Law to pave the way for schools to hire talented rectors, or it would be better to say the appointment will be valid if it is approved by the school council or management board,” he said.

Nguyen Ngoc Son, Dean of Law at Ton Duc Thang University, commented that current laws require rectors to have managerial skills because an excellent scientist or researcher does not always mean an excellent rector. Adjusting requirements and standards just to attract one talented scientist is not a good solution, he added.

However, Son agrees that the requirement on five years of managerial experience is causing problems for universities operating under financial and managerial autonomy.

“The most important thing is that candidates must successfully convince school boards (state-owned schools) or boards of management (private schools) of his or her ability to be a rector,” he said.

Thanh became well known in Vietnam after he gave lectures in a t-shirt and shorts in an aim to teach about creative thought in 2017. Thanh said that his image in T-shirt and shorts is a testament to creativity, a part of his lecture.


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