Telecommunications -related Institutions in Vietnam

Condensed by: anders@cce-mail.hut.fi

1. Member profile - Vietnam

Universities in Vietnam, long isolated from most of the international scientific community, are facing severe problems brought about by global political and economic changes. With the doi moi-opened door-policy of the Vietnamese Government in recent years, the national social and economic development and international relations are increasing rapidly. As a result, the demands on highly qualified manpower for telecommunications become utmost urgent problem.

2. The Hanoi National Polytechnic University (HPU)

The Hanoi National Polytechnic University (HPU) is the oldest and largest of Vietnam's three technical universities. The two other universities of technology are located in the south, in Danang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Based on the former Indo-Chinese Institute from French colonial time, HPU was founded in 1956. The main task of the HPU has been to provide qualified engineers for rebuilding country after the war and to develop industry in such fields as energy, mechanical engineering, chemistry, metallurgy, electronics and telecommunications.

Currently, annual enrollment is 800 students and to date the university has trained more than 25,000 engineers, representing most branches of engineering and technology. The full-time program is a five-year degree leading to an "Engineer of Technology" degree, which the university equates to a Bachelor's degree.

Since 1976 HPU has trained postgraduates (M.S.). There are 50 postgraduate students every year on two-year programs.

HPU also undertakes other forms of further training and continuing education for postgraduate engineers with an aim to give them the latest know-how, consolidate their basic and primary knowledge, as well as acquaint trainers with research methods on profound professional matters. Such training is organized in long-time courses of 3-12 months or specialized courses of several weeks.

3. "Too Much Theory"

At present, Vietnam's public expenditure for personnel training and science study are far behind the demand. This is felt also at HPU.

Most of the facilities of the University which were provided by the Soviet Union in 1965 are now quite out of date. Some donor agencies have assisted the institution, for example a Dutch donation of some equipment for the solid physics and automatic control areas five years ago. Some French assistance is provided for postgraduate training.

"In an under-developed country like Vietnam, our training program has shown many shortcomings," says Professor Hoang Trong Yem, Rector of the Hanoi National Polytechnic University. "There has been too much theory and too little practice and students rarely have access to modern industry."

Access to updated information on international scientific and technical development also hinders both students and teachers, and there is lack of reference books, documents and facilities.

"We have a rather well-qualified teaching staff of more than nine hundred," said Professor Hoang. "Of these, 42 per cent have a Master's or Ph.D. degree, and ten per cent are professors or assistant professors."

Professor Hoang feels confident that his graduate engineers still can meet the production demand in Vietnam. "It is, however, urgent for them to be further trained in business management and scientific and technical development to meet the requirement of a market-oriented economy in the future."

4. First in Continuing Education

HPU was the first institution to carry out continuing education in Vietnam and the University's Center for Continuing Education is the biggest in the country. As the other departments, it is short of documents and facilities.

Professor Pham Duc Gia, director of the center complains of the severe lack of equipment and funds.

"We have one computer terminal classroom with a Soviet made IBM 360 clone EC 1022, provided by the USSR in 1965. We have eight continuing education auditoriums, but the state only provides finance of an equivalent of US $40,000 per year. This centre can therefore train only 50 postgraduate students each year.

Also the equipment of the other department laboratories are used for continuing education, but they suffer from the same problems. For example, the five laboratories in the Department of Radioelectronics and Communications have one workshop for students' practical exercises and one computer room with three IBM-PC AT/XT microcomputers.

"Except for the computers, almost all equipment in the laboratories is are very old, made 20, or even 30 years ago," says Professor Pham Duc Gia. "Many of these are not any more in use. For example, all the LF generators were made in the 1960s, but only one of them is still usable."

5. Desperate Veed for Equipment

A lot of the laboratory exercises and student practice work are based on electronic tube models. "These were relevant twenty years ago, but now they have only historical value," shrugs Pham.

"Our training efforts need external financing to become fruitful and to help promoting the process of industrialization and solving the poor conditions in Vietnam."

The library is an important source of information. Before 1990, most of the literature came from the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. But with the changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe this source does not exist any more. Lack of hard currency makes the shortage of scientific literature particularly serious.

The Vietnamese Government provides the University budget for research and training, including the fund for employee salaries, funds for laboratory equipment and the library, and student scholarships. However, the total state budget for education and training is less than 0.5 per cent of the national budget.

The Hanoi Polytechnic University total annual budget is some 3 billion Vietnamese dong, equivalent of US $400,000. As the largest part, about 2.5 billion, goes to salaries and scholarships, the fund left for the equipment in the individual departments is very small. Department of Radioelectronics and Communications gets about 5 million dong - less than US $700.

In addition to the state budget, the departments can earn extra funds for their activities by carrying out contract research work with industry. But the lack of modern facilities and up-to-date information prevents this contribution from growing substantially.

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