HCMC schools lack resources to relocate

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Universities in Ho Chi Minh City are facing difficulties in moving to the outskirts from downtown areas as ordered by municipal authorities in 2006, local newspaper Saigon Tiep Thi reported Monday.


According to the news source, some 50 out of 112 universities and colleges are supposed to make the move by 2013 under a project that aims to reduce traffic congestion in the city.


So far the city has set aside 2,210 hectares of land in the northeast for the schools to build new headquarters.


Mai Hong Quy, president of the HCMC University of Law, said in 2007 her school signed an agreement with the HCMC People's Committee to build a new school in District 9, but district authorities are yet to complete a zoning plan for the construction.


The HCMC University of Economics, which planned to move nearly ten years ago, is also stuck for similar reasons, according to the news source.


President Pham Van Nang said at first his school was given 70 hectares of land in District 9 to build a new school, but later the city cut it down to 50 hectares and so far the zoning plan was still incomplete.


Le Bao Lam, president of HCMC Open University, said they have had financial difficulties in investing in a new school.


The city's "spontaneous" attitude towards the plan has also slowed down the re-allocation project, Nang was quoted as saying by Saigon Tiep Thi.


When traffic jams were bad, authorities urged schools to move, but when the situation got better, they left the schools as they were, the president of the economics university said.


The HCMC Department of Planning and Investment last week submitted a proposal for supporting the schools under which the city would let each relocating university or college to borrow up to VND300 billion (US$15.4 million) at preferential interest rates under the city's stimulus package for investment.


However, Nang said the loan amount was too small, considering they have to pay compensation to locals for site clearance, construction fees and invest in equipment.


In fact, the HCMC University of Education needs some VND5 trillion ($256.54 million) to build a new school covering 53 hectares, while the HCMC University of Architecture estimates it needs VND500 billion ($25.65 million) just for site clearance compensation.


Authorities should give schools stronger support like clearing sites and giving land to them for construction, which is the best solution to speed up the project, said Quy of the law university.


However, she said the city shouldn't get rid of all universities and colleges from the central area, because a city cannot develop without universities.


Moreover, moving all universities to outskirts will cause considerable trouble for those attending post-graduate programs, because many of them work and have to take classes at night, Quy said.


Of all 15,000 students of the law university, 10,000 are studying for post-graduate programs or a second diploma, she said.

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