Strengthening Governance, Financing and Quality of Higher Education

June 25, 2015


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Students study at a computer lab at Hanoi University.

Simone McCourtie/World Bank

The Project supported the formulation of a new legal framework which provides greater level of autonomy to higher education institutions (HEIs) and increase their accountability, such as deciding number of students, deciding training content and opening new programs, staff recruitment and retention, disclosing annual reports on financing, staffing and learning outcomes, among others. With the HE Law that was enacted in June 2012, new regulations to enhance fiscal transparency, sustainability, efficiency and equity of the HE sub sector and quality assurance and accreditation have been issued.

Challenge

Vietnam’s HE system over the past two decades rapidly expanded, and outpaced the evolution of the regulatory and legal framework (101 institutions in 1987 to 419 in 2012). Vietnam needed to avoid letting the HE system grow haphazardly, and setting up an organized system needed to be a priority.

Vietnam was spending a significant share of its public resources on HE but was not meeting the increased demand. There was a recognized need in reforming public financing to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of the government’s budget, as well as improving transparency and accountability in public financial management in the HE sub sector. Finally the continuing growth of HE enrolment put tremendous pressures on the quality of teaching, research and public service.

Solution

The program was comprised of three single-tranche Development Policy Credits to support a bold and comprehensive higher education reform effort, putting in place important policies to strengthen governance, rationalize financing, and improve the quality of teaching and research. It also enhanced accountability for performance and transparency in financial management in the sector.

Critical pieces of legislation and policies to cement accomplishments have advanced, including the Higher Education Law. The findings of implementation assessment of the series of operations showed that the policy measures adopted have had overall positive impacts on the development of the higher education sector, providing legal basis for higher education institutions to be more proactive and accountable in carrying out their academic, financial and human resource duties. The adopted policy measures have also resulted in a significant transfer of decision-making authority to the institutions from the central ministry.

Results

•    Governance: The operations supported the introduction of a new legal framework with the highest legislation being the HE Law, and as a result:
- Since 2012, 100% of HEIs have been able to decide on the number of  enrollees ;
- Since 2011, 100% HEIs can decide the content of their training programs and open new training programs as they wish;
- 339 joint training programs are being delivered together with reputable universities worldwide.

•    Financing: With policies supported by the operations:
- By 2012/2013, 39% of HEIs’ revenue has been generated from tuition fees;
- All institutions under Ministry of Education and Training produce annual financial reports; and
- Until academic year 2011/2012, 2.5 million loans worth $1.2 billion have been granted to students representing about 75% of the student body.

•    Quality improvement and assurance: Policies have been developed to improve quality, move towards a credit based training system, and require institutions to disclose information. As a result:
- By the academic year 2014/2015, 179 institutions have moved to credit based training;
- 301 institutions have established internal quality systems; and  
- Since academic year 2013/2014, two independent accreditation centers were set up


" The Higher Education Law has enabled us to attract and appoint high quality faculty and researchers. We now have complete autonomy on academic matters including training programs and student enrolment which has enabled us to significantly expand the partnership with industries and international partners in improving the quality of teaching and research and in diversifying sources of funding for the university. "

Associate Prof. Dr Hoang Minh Son

Vice President, Hanoi University of Science and Technology


World Bank Group contribution

IDA has provided US$150 million in assistance for the series.

Partners

The Government of Vietnam, through the Higher Education Program Unit (which ceased to operate in 2013) and the Department of Higher Education in the Ministry of Education and Training moved the Program forward consistently, ensuring the availability of timely and reliable data.

Moving forward

The policy environment in which both the Ministry of Education and Training and the education institutions have been operating is constantly evolving in a positive direction towards the vision put forward in the Higher Education Reform Agenda. The ministry has also demonstrated strong commitment in further developing the legal framework which governs the work in this sub sector. A draft of a governmental decree on higher education institutions stratification and ranking has been produced, and the first batch of four universities have been granted complete autonomy in financial management.

Beneficiaries

“The Higher Education Law has enabled us to attract and appoint high quality faculty and researchers. We now have complete autonomy on academic matters including training programs and student enrolment which has enabled us to significantly expand the partnership with industries and international partners in improving the quality of teaching and research and in diversifying sources of funding for the university.”Associate Prof. Dr Hoang Minh Son, Vice President, Hanoi University of Science and Technology

“The major transfer of decision making authority from the Ministry of Education and Training to HEIs helps us focus on our stewardship role while empowering HEIs in taking autonomous decisions concerning their academic, governance and quality assurance matters. They are the ones who will bring about changes in the sector responding to changing demands of industries and society” Associate Prof. Dr Bui Anh Tuan, Former Director General, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Training



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100%
higher education insitutes can decide the content of their training programs and open new training programs as they wish since 2011