Vietnam private schools complain bitterly about govt neglect

Thanh Nien News

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Prof Tran Hong Quan (right), chairman of the Private Colleges and Universities Association, speaks with deputy eduction minister Bui Van Ga at a meeting March 14. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Private colleges and universities complained about the lack of government support for them at a meeting Friday, with one official likening its treatment of them to that of bastard children.
In 20 years since they first appeared on the scene, private colleges and universities have only managed to enroll around  300,000 students a year or 14.4 percent of the total number, their representatives said at the first ever meeting with the Ministry of Education and Training in two decades, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Dr Nguyen Dinh Ngo, president of Phu Xuan University in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue, said private schools cannot compare with public ones, and their students are discriminated against by employers.
Ngo said public schools are subsidized“from A to Z” unlike private ones that have to pay various taxes and are forced to charge high fees.
Public schools also enroll students taking the entrance exams down to the cutoff grades set by the ministry, leaving few candidates for private schools, he said.
Another big blow to private schools came when many localities “loudly announced they have closed their doors to graduates from private schools.
“No wonder private schools perish."
Tran Kim Phuong, chairwoman of Hanoi-based ASEAN College, said the ministry manages private schools poorly because few of its top officials used to work for them.
The ministry ordered her school to stop taking in new students recently after a “mismanaged” inspection concluded that it does not have enough teachers.
The inspectors had used teacher numbers from the end of the previous academic year but student numbers from the next, she said.
“The ministry’s staff do not understand anything about or have any experience of private schools, and so they cannot make policies that benefit private schools,” she said.
Prof Tran Hong Quan, chairman of the Private College and University Association, said the government should exempt private schools from land and corporate taxes, part of which have is paid by the students in the form of tuition.
“The sole income for private schools is from tuition … If they are not to benefit from those exemptions, the ultimate victim is the student,” he said.
A representative of Hong Bang International University in Ho Chi Minh City said the education ministry treats private schools like “children born out of wedlock.”
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam promised to push for changes to make competition fairer to private schools.
But he warned that since tax changes are related to the laws, they would take a lot of time to change.

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