Lawmakers support autonomy of universities

Many legislators have voiced their support for university autonomy while talking to the press on the sidelines of the sixth session of the 14th National Assembly.
Illustrative photo (Source: VNA)
Illustrative photo (Source: VNA)

On November 6, the parliament discussed some of the debatable issues of the draft law on revising and supplementing some articles of the Law on Higher Education.

Deputy Hoang Van Cuong of Hanoi told the media that the draft stipulates that the governance responsibility of universities are taken on by the schools themselves, which he said is one of the “biggest successes” in help with the promotion of university autonomy.

Good autonomy will help develop a substantive university system which will no longer depend on the State budget to operate, he said.

Ho Thanh Binh, a lawmaker representing An Giang province, said that the regulations on university autonomy in the draft law will create chances for tertiary establishments to make breakthroughs. This is an inevitable trend that universities around the world have followed for years, and as such domestic universities should keep up with this trend to improve their competitiveness.

The State should help schools build their autonomous capacity, he said, adding that competition is one of the most basic driving forces for development. Although difficulties may arise in the initial stage, universities still support plans for autonomy, which will help them build up their capacity.

Regarding solutions for the schools to gradually become more autonomous, some deputies said the most important issue for university autonomy is financial autonomy as it is the basis for universities to design their training modules and specify the number of students to be recruited, thereby helping to improve training quality.

Deputy Hoang Van Cuong of Hanoi said autonomy doesn’t mean the State does not invest in the training activities of autonomous universities. Instead, it keeps financial funding but not in the form of complete subsidies as in the past. The State will no longer give the schools money to pay lecturers and for operating costs.

For example, for sectors that are high in labour demand but in which learners are unwilling to pick up studies in, the State will pay universities to open courses and these schools will use that money for recruitment and training, Cuong noted.

Meanwhile, Luu Binh Nhuong, a legislator of Ben Tre province, said the draft law needs to clearly stipulate what the State shall manage and what universities shall independently control.

He said State universities are established by the State to provide tertiary educational services for society, so the State still has some responsibility for these tertiary establishments and can only grant partial autonomy to them. Their activities must not be separate from the educational targets set by the State. –VNA

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