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Developing Vietnamese tertiary education in the new stage
30/3/2007 11:36' Send Print

Together with the renovation process in our country over the past 20 years, tertiary education in Vietnam has made important leaps in scope, quality and efficiency which has contributed to the narrowing of the gap in tertiary education with other countries in the region.

- Tertiary education in Vietnam before Vietnam’s accession to the WTO

The renovation in the tertiary education of Vietnam over the past 20 years was characterized by two features: 1/ Transforming from an education which served the centrally planned economy to an education operating in a socialist-oriented market economy; 2/ Moving from a close education to an open education in line with the active stance of international integration. Therefore, in reality, both the organization and the operation of tertiary education have witnessed fundamental changes towards the orientation of diversification, standardization, modernization and socialization.

- Vietnamese tertiary education after Vietnam acquired full WTO membership and before implementing commitments to GATS

The matter now is when, how and with what conditions, Vietnam will commit to liberalize and commercialize its education services. There are two scenarios to this question is either: 1/ take a “wait and see” approach like a majority of other developing countries have done; or 2/ take an active stance like China and Thailand.


After having acquired full membership of the WTO, Vietnam may choose a moderate scenario as: actively preparing from now to 2010 and after that, implementing commitments to GATS. The preparatory stage will review and perfect relevant legal documents, policies and human resources in order to increase the efficiency of the apparatus, management capacity and systemic capacity to ensure the success when we open the education services to foreign competition.

- Vietnamese tertiary education with the implementation of commitments to GATS

As a newcomer of the WTO, Vietnam has to accept higher foreign requirements in the education sector. After having joined the WTO, Vietnam has to continue to negotiate on technical matters in opening education services within the framework of the Doha negotiation round. The question for us at present is how and under what conditions should we open the sector? In principle, like other countries, Vietnam must confirm that State-run education entities are not subject to the rules of GATS. The opening up will only apply to private-run tertiary education entities. Therefore, there are two components in Vietnamese tertiary education. In relation to a non-commercial direction, Vietnamese tertiary education will promote and make good use of international cooperation and further international integration into the tertiary education of the world according to the direction set forth by UNESCO. With regard to a commercial direction, private-run tertiary education will be open to foreign investors.

The above-mentioned activities have already happened in Vietnam before the acceptance of the rules of GATS. What we should do when we join GATS is to take into account the risks and exposures that may arise, especially the rules of the most favored nation and national treatment.

Pham Do Nhat Tien