Ministry acts to check students-for-hire service

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The Ministry of Education and Training has asked local education authorities to tighten control over students attending in-service programs at higher education institutions and vocational schools.


The move follows reports about booming online offers to attend classes instead of the real students for "reasonable" remuneration.


Thanh Nien investigation found, however, that such services weren't restricted to in-service students.


A look at online classified ads revealed that it is easy to find "students for hire" services covering higher education classes as well as in-service training for between VND20,000-50,000 (US$1.02-2.56) per period.


There are also offers to to sit for tests at VND15,000 per test and to write essays and other papers, with prices depending on the subject.


A young man running a student rental service told told Thanh Nien on the phone that the highest market price for a day at present was VND70,000.


Claiming to be a student of the Hanoi Vietnam National University, the man said he can attend classes for his customers "during weekdays, in the summer and at any time."


Le Bich Thuy, another seller, said she'd graduated from college majoring in accounting. She was offering services for higher education to post-graduate education classes with economics as major in Hanoi.


A university lecturer in Ho Chi Minh City who wished to stay unnamed attributed the new phenomenon partly to the leniency shown by schools to cheating students.


The class size at Vietnamese universities is usually big, sometimes nearly 200, and lecturers aren't t the ones who are in charge of a class of students, so it was difficult for them to detect the impostors, he said.


The thriving students-for-hire service on the Internet is worrying experts and educators.


Nguyen Tu Anh, a manager at Hoa Sen Group's Human Resources Training and Development Department, said it was "a worrisome reality", misleading people into thinking "they can buy anything with money."


Diplomas are important when people apply for jobs, but later their true capacities will be easily seen by their employers, especially foreign companies, Anh warned.


The lecturer said he was worried that students who play tricks at schools will probably go on to do more dishonest things in their lives.


The first step in dealing with the problem is to change society's attitude towards formal educational qualifications, he said. They should not be seen as the only thing that can guarantee success and gain prestige in life, he added.

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