Thứ Bảy, 6 tháng 12, 2008

A new, locally-developed university ranking system for Vietnam?

I wrote this piece for Thanh Nien online, English edition, but I don't know whether they will use it, so here it is for anybody who will listen to me;-).

An announcement has recently been made by the research team led by Prof Dr Nguyen Phuong Nga from Vietnam National University, Ha Noi that a ranking system for Vietnamese universities is being developed. The team promised that the first ranking results will be released soon, possibly in a few months’ time.

While university ranking is now considered a worldwide phenomenon, I believe it should be handled with great care in a country like Vietnam where the “false achievement disease” (ie, cheating in plain English) is rampant. Also, university ranking only works in strong civil societies where access to good data is a right, and customer protection is strong. Both of these conditions are still lacking in Vietnam.

Condering the current situation in Vietnam, I believe the existence of a university ranking system, especially one supported or recognised by the Ministry of Education and Training, will have a detrimental effect on the quality of higher education in Vietnam, rather than improve it. Once a university is ranked on the number of, say, doctoral degree holders no matter in what fields or of what quality, then this will push universities and university lecturers to more cheating of all kinds to have a sufficient number of PhDs. Likewise with publications and citations. Meanwhile, the low quality of higher education in Vietnam, especially at post-graduate levels, is already a severe headache for the country’s education leaders. I strongly believe that ill-prepared rankings of universities will only worsen the situation.

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