Universities warned to balance between admission target, training capacity

The Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has just released a circular on determining enrolment quota for doctoral, master, bachelor degrees as well as college degree in preschool education (Circular No.3). The fact that universities are now allowed to be autonomous in deciding this quota, with corresponding responsibility, has raised much concern among experts in the field.

Universities warned to balance between admission target, training capacity ảnh 1

Candidates joining in the Competency Assessment held by Vietnam National University – HCMC in March 2021.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Hoang Minh Son shared that Circular No.3 provides new content in accordance with the 2018 Law on Amendment to the Higher Education Law (Law No.34) and Decree No.99, providing guideline for Law No.34. It states that universities are allowed to determine their own enrolment quota, following criteria issued by MoET to ensure a match between admission scale and training capacity.

Besides the unchanged basic criterion of floor area per full-time student directly serving training purposes, at 2.8m2, the other criterion of lecturer/student ratio witnesses a significant change.

Accordingly, the number of visiting lecturers to determine the enrolment quote in each major is at 10 percent of the total faculty member quantity (a rise of 5 percent compared to Circular No.07/2020). Specialized majors can have this proportion increase to 40 percent ( a rise of 10 percent compared to Circular No.07/2020).

The new Circular also addresses inadequacies of older circulars regarding the addition of meritorious artists and people’s artists, meritorious teachers and people’s teachers, artists to the faculty member list for such majors as ethnic minority language teacher, Vietnamese language - literature – culture, foreign language – literature – culture, physical education and sports, specific arts.

Moreover, MoET asks that training institutes publicly announce their enrolment quota for each major, with corresponding accountability to the society and their direct supervising unit. They must ensure their training scale does not exceed their training capacity for the sake of quality.

Sadly, statistics in a recent general inspection of MoET at over 200 universities as to teaching staff and training facilities reveal that a large quantity of lecturers are seriously below standard (30-64 percent of them only own a bachelor degree despite Circular No.34’s regulation of at least a master degree). The lecturer/student ratio, the training floor area per student in many universities do not match the criteria either.

There comes a concern then that the increase in visiting lecturer percentage to determine enrolment quota will be cunningly exploited in the upcoming time.

It is advisable that universities with international or regional accreditations can be allowed a quota rise, yet those with national accreditation should be reconsidered. Many experts in the field agreed that several universities use high scores in minor unimportant criteria to compensate for their low scores in major essential criteria in order to obtain a national accreditation.

Besides, determining whether to rise an enrolment quota based on the number of graduates with job of 80 percent is not at all convincing. This rate is normally a marketing one rather than a true reflection of the reality.

Former Vice President of HCMC University of Finance – Marketing Hua Minh Tuan stated that the good side of increasing the visiting lecturer percentage in Circular No.03 is the opportunity to attract more qualified teachers to train students. Yet the drawback lies in a sensible method to monitor the real number of visiting lecturers in each university, which is rather challenging.

Circular No.03 stipulates that a training institute cannot rise its enrolment quota in the following cases:

1.     The training institute violates regulations on enrolment subjects, conditions, and quota as provided in Point c of Section 1 in Article 34 of Law No.34. It cannot self-determine its admission quota within 5 years since the conclusion of law violation;

2.     The training institute is not accredited;

3.     The proportion of graduates with job of the major wishing for a quota increase is below 80 percent, or the rate of fulfilling enrolment target in the previous year reached below 80 percent.