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Unfair handling will break a good model of autonomy

According to Prof. Dr. Tran Duc Vien, Chairman of the Vietnam National University of Agriculture, the incident at Ton Duc Thang University is now one of the most typical examples of implementing autonomy, which is also a good occasion to The Committee to draft a Decree detailing and guiding the implementation of Law No. 34 on amendments and supplements.

The management agency no longer has full discretion

Press: Currently, you are the Chairman of Vietnam National University of Agriculture, so in your opinion, what are the roles of the University Council and management agency in a university implementing autonomy?

Prof. Dr. Tran Duc Vien: In the spirit of Resolution 19-NQ / TW and Law No. 34, the University Council is the highest authority, representing the owning; In public education institutions, this is the public owning.

There, there are representatives of related owning parties (representatives of the Party, management agency, social communities, localities, employers, businesses and students, alumni, parents, lecturers, officials, university leaders ...), they represent the State and other subjects to directly administer the university. This is also an institution to express democratic rights of the education institutions.

Therefore, the representative of the governing body is a natural component of the University Board according to the Law, but their role is not to direct, to convey the will and aspirations of the leader of the agency nor do they require educational institutions to follow what they have decided.

The spirit of Resolution 19/ NQ-TW also states that it is time to abandon the mechanism of management; with public non-business units, universities that have completely autonomous expenditures will regularly operate under the model like enterprises; they even have the right to organize examinations and hire principals. Therefore, the governing body only has a limited role in the University Board (they no longer have the considerable power to make a decision as they do to non-autonomous institutions).

Even in the Law No. 34, it is clearly stated, “abandon the mechanism” of management; there is no other written document to “abandon the governing body”.

It means that there may still be a governing body, but the old management “mechanism” of bureaucratic, centralized bureaucracy is no longer available, the governing body must accompany the educational institutions in guiding and assisting them to best implement autonomy according to the Law.

The governing body only has the ownership, and the management right belongs to the University Board. Thank to this, autonomous universities can make decisions on thier own and ensure accountability for most of the issues related to the development of educational institutions; they do not have to ask anyone to "license" for educational institutions to implement their goal, vision, mission and core values that the educational institution has committed to and pursued.

At that time, the State and society monitor the activities of educational institutions through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that the educational institutions have committed to or were assigned/ ordered by the State. The State no longer intervenes directly in the operation of educational institutions in a “hands-on” way or the commmand and control mechanism like war-time.

For Vietnam National University of Agriculture, when implementing Resolution 77, we are lucky to the Minister who is very knowledgeable about university autonomy. He said that it is autonomy, not self-sufficiency, so he supported all the facilities for the University so that the University could develop and organize excellent research programs, serving some tasks of industry restructuring. 

Specifically, the Minister assigned the University to be almost completely autonomous in terms of organization and personnel, setting up the University Board, regulations on organization and operation ... Without such co-ordination and considerable support from the Ministry management, Vietnam National University of Agriculture would not develop like today.

Personnel Appointment must comply with the Law

From the incident of Ton Duc Thang University, according to you,  should  the appointment of the University Board's personnel and the President Board be followed the regulations of the governing body or the provisions of the Higher Education Law?

As you use the word "incident", I want to explain something before answering the question.

I feel sad and worried about this unhappy story. Frankly speaking, Ton Duc Thang University (TDTU) is a pioneer in university autonomy, and they have had very outstanding achievements. Currently, there have been hardly any universities in Vietnam that have done the same without taking any tax from the people.

If TDTU, the governing body (General Confederation of Labor) and the management agency (Ministry of Education and Training) handle badly and reasonably, they will likely break a good model of university autonomy.

If that happens, it is very unfortunate, who will be responsible for the unreasonable collapse? Who will bear the debt that TDTU is borrowing to invest? Perhaps, the disadvantage always belongs to the learners and their families?

Perhaps those who hold the authority need to think about the benefits of the education, the benefits of the new university autonomy, the first steps of the university's higher education rather than thinking of other things, which are not related to the "big picture" of the fundamental and comprehensive innovation of Education and Training.

Returning to the question about the appointment of personnel, it is clear that it must comply with the spirit of Resolution No. 6-NQ / TW, Resolution 19-NQ / TW and the Law amending and supplementing some articles of the Higher Education Law (Law No. 34) and Decision 105 of the Central Committee on HR work.

All officials and party members must be exemplary, clear as day, why do journalists still ask "follow the regulations of the management agency or the provisions of the Higher Education Law"?

Clause 3, Article 16, Law No. 34 clearly stipulates the university's personnel decision-making competence. With this provision, members of University Council are divided into 3 groups:

Firstly, the group of default members who are of course not designated by any agency, including the secretary of university party committee, the university president, the Union president and the representative of the university's Youth Union (the learners).

Secondly, the group of members who are elected by teachers, officials and employees.

Thirdly, the group of members outside the university. In this group, there is a member representing the management agency appointed by the management agency; The rest must be elected by the staff and teachers of the educational institution.

Note, for default members, the management agency does not have the authority to approve or designate or plan to appoint but to appoint and vote according to the law.

If there is a plan to appoint, that plan belongs to the job placement scheme and the personnel scheme that the educational institution has submitted to the competent authority for approval. The position of the default members of the University Council must also comply with the law.

For members who are elected by teachers and staff, the management agency cannot appoint or "plan to appoint" because it is the violation of the right of the collective of teachers, staff and employees of the educational institution.

Article 16, the University Councils of autonomous public universities have the authority to decide the University President according to the procedures stipulated in the Organization and Operation Regulation of the university and submit it to the management agency to issue a decision to recognize it. That is, the university president is elected by the University Council of Students according to the Organization and Operation Regulation of the university.

The management agency only issues a decision to recognize the election result. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has done the same with Vietnam National University of Agriculture, the Minister did not "appoint" the Chairman of the University Council and the President, only recognized the results of the election of these two titles of the Council.

Prof. Dr. Tran Duc Vien

There is never a "split the part".

Does Vietnam National University of Agriculture have to fulfill the obligation to pay the percentage of the school's surplus to the governing organization?

No, it is never possible to "split the part" of such sticky-heartedness of the governing organization for a dependent educational institution. This is the first time I have heard this strange-looking "story" in the history of Vietnamese education.

The educational institutions use the surplus to continue investing, to continuously improve and improve the facilities and working conditions as well as the living standards for teachers and students in training, scientific research and social services, and there is no policy that the school must "subtract to the management agency a maximum of 30% of the financial results after paying taxes as the situation at Ton Duc Thang University.

What is the specific amount of payment decided directly by the superior management agency "as reported by the presses? What legal regulations allow governing organization to do so?

Moreover, with Vietnam National University of Agriculture, the governing organization is the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, which also invests drastically and definitely the medium-term investment programs to upgrade the Institute phase I (to be completed in 2020) and prepare invest in upgrading Academy Phase II with the amount of up to hundreds of billion VND.

The Ministry's leader worked directly with the World Bank and related ministries so that the Academy could get an investment project of up to 54.2 million USD, starting from 2019, and will be completed in 2022.

Law No. 34 will take effect from July 1, 2019, according to the Ministry’s leader, the Decree instructs how the Law should be made so that when implementing autonomy for universities, the universities see it as true autonomy and not a half of it? The management transparency between the School Council and the governing organization?

The society is expecting much in this Decree. Law No. 34 is the expression of the Party's leadership in the Central Resolution 6 and other Party Resolutions and Decisions related to education and training.

The Decree must ensure quality requirements, which must be specified and instructed to implement the Law in detail, clearly, easily to understand, not to "bend" so that everyone can comply and comply with it 

In particular, words and phrases should be avoided to be vague, uncertain, multi-meaningful, and easy to deduce in different understandings, such as "according to the rules of the law" but not to specify which law, especially while our legal system is still incomplete.

Perhaps because there is no Decree yet, there is a "verbal conversation" between the educational institution and the governing organization such as between TDTU and The General Confederation of Labor.

The current confusion between The General Confederation of Labor and TDTU is also a good opportunity for the Board to draft a Decree detailing and guiding the implementation of Law No. 34 to amend and supplement the necessary things before asking for public opinions and issued officially.

To this end, the Decree must adhere to the spirit of Central Resolution 6-NQ / TW, Central Resolution 19-NQ / TW and Law No. 34 and Decision 105 of the Central Executive Committee.

Thank you very much!

Hong Hanh

Source: Dantri iNews