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Monday, 25 March 2019 10:09
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Innovating the model of cultivating leaders and managers of public universities to meet requirements for autonomy and self-responsibility

(LLCT) - The Party and State of Vietnam have determined that university autonomy is a vital component of society, and public universities have to associate training goals with the demands of society and the labor market. However, reality has shown that there have not been a lot of changes in the administration and operation capacity of leaders and managers in public universities. Therefore, the system for training and cultivating leaders and managers of universities should be innovated to improve their administration and operation capacity and to meet the requirements of the labor market and increasing demand for training quality.

Keywords: training, cultivating leaders and managers, higher education institutions, university autonomy.

1. Autonomy and self-responsibility as required from public universities

In 2013, the Party’s resolution on fundamental and comprehensive innovation of education and training was promulgated, which specified the following goals: “to create a fundamental and strong change in quality and effect of education and training, and to strive to make Vietnam’s education level advanced in the region by 2030”. Planning for Developing Human Resources for Education in the Period 2011-2020 (promulgated in conjunction with Decision No. 6639/ QD-BGDDT dated December 29th, 2011 by the Minister of Education and Training), specified the necessity of making fundamental and comprehensive changes to Vietnam’s education system in the direction of standardization, modernization, socialization, democratization, and international integration, in which the innovation of the education management apparatus and the development of teachers and managers are crucial steps. The Political Report to the 12th National Congress of the Party continues to identify the missions in the coming years to make fundamental and strong changes in the quality and effect of education and training, basically innovate the education and training management work, guarantee democracy and unity, increase autonomy and social responsibility of education and training institutions, and highlight quality management. Teachers and managers should be developed to meet the requirements for innovating education and training.

Statistics show that public universities outnumber private ones. That clearly indicates the position and role of public universities in ensuring the output of high-quality human resources for the labor market. For public higher education institutions, due to their public nature - the State owns, invests in, and builds facilities; the use of material resources and staff must be in accordance with law provisions on managing, using State assets and staff; and they are under the state management of the Ministry of Education and Training regarding issues related to university education - and their large size and number, as they are now, financial autonomy requirements for these institutions is becoming more urgent. Thus, autonomy for public higher education institutions is being implemented by the Party and State of Vietnam. The promulgations of Decree No. 16/2015/ND-CP, dated February 14, 2015, on stipulating the autonomous mechanism for public civil service units, and Resolution No. 77/NQ-CP, dated October 24, 2014, on piloting innovation of operating mechanisms for public education institutions in the period 2014-2017, shows that the State has identified university autonomy as an important step forward, and public universities are urged to link training targets with the demands of society and labor market. On October 10, 2016, the Government promulgated Decree No. 141/2016/ND-CP, regulating the autonomous mechanism of public civil service units in the field of economics and others. Accordingly, universities are entrusted with autonomy in defining specialties, the organization of staff and finance, enhancement of explanation responsibility, the stipulation of quality verification, reduction of administrative interference by the governing agencies, and movement toward the elimination of governing mechanisms. Such autonomous requirements are associated with the formation of university boards in the university administration tendency, so there are great requirements for the capacity to administrate the resources such as lecturers, policy-makers, mechanisms, and financial sources. Meanwhile, there is redundancy, shortage, weakness in leadership and management, lack of motivation for study and innovation, failure to catch up with the requirements of education innovation, shallow understandings about lecturer resources and the development needed in association with the labor market in the fierce competitive context in the leaders and managers in the higher education institutions today. That motivates the urgent requirements to cultivate and improve their capacity in the context which requires the capacity of autonomy and operation of university boards to meet the requirements of society and for international integration. Training, cultivating, and improving the capacity of such leaders contributes to enhancing the quality of higher education and university administration effect. That capacity is not just limited to the standards of specialty and the professionalism of a lecturer, but it also needs to ensure the standardization of the political quality, morality, and ability to lead and operate university boards on implementing autonomy. As a result, cultivating them requires a specific model on the basis of identifying job positions and a capacity framework unlike professional title standard cultivation for university lecturers in general.

2. Reality of training and cultivating managers at public universities

In terms of guidelines for training, cultivating, and improving the capacity of those who work in higher education institutions, the Ministry of Education and Training has been deploying and implementing two major projects: Project 911 for training doctorates for universities(1) and Project 599(2) for overseas training for staff in the 2013-2020 period. The managers are provided with Circular 28/2014/TT-BGDDT, dated August 26, 2014, of the Ministry of Education and Training, which stipulates the cultivation and issue of certificates for the education management specialty, the project for training and cultivating teachers and managers of education institutions to meet the fundamental and comprehensive innovation requirements for general education in the 2016-2020 period, with visions towards 2025. Accordingly, many domestic public higher education institutions have strengthened deployment of training programs for Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees in education management for higher education institutions. Particularly, Decision No. 224-QD/TW, dated January 6, 2001, of the 11th term of the Politburo (which was then replaced by Decision No. 145-QD/TW, dated August 8, 2018, of the Politburo), on functions, missions, authorities, and apparatus organization of the Ho Chi Minh City National Academy of Politics, specifies that the Academy has the functions to: train mid-rank and high-rank leaders, managers of the political system, and key leaders of public civil service units (including leaders and managers of public universities) and State enterprises; cultivate the study of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought; teach the views, guidelines, and platforms of the Party; study the policies and laws of the State; examine the theoretical and practical issues inside and outside the country; teach political science, leadership skills, and management science; host advanced training in political theory for the current staff, leaders, and managers; cultivate and update new knowledge for staff as the leaders and managers of agencies; improve organizations of the political system via training and reorganizing institutions; and training and cultivating lecturers, researchers, and other the study of all aspects of political science, leadership, and management science and social sciences. Thus, the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics is an institution for training and cultivating not only in specialized leadership thinking but also for the cultivation of institutions for political thought, advancement, and the quality of leaders in the new era. These are the key political standards that are essential for the heads of higher education institutions today. In 2017, the Academy also built a new framework for advanced political theory training and for the position-based training programs to ensure the basis, system, practice, modernity, and suitability of the training subjects, functions, and missions of the Academy. It also added new contents addressing global, regional, and domestic problems which are affecting all fields of the political and socio-economic life in Vietnam.

However, in many other specialty training institutions for the above subjects, reality is that the contents of the training and cultivating programs are highly academic and often difficult for implementing skills, and results may remain inconsistent. Although the levels of the subjects to be trained and cultivated are different (the subjects in the planned list or the leaders of universities, faculties, and subjects), the same training and cultivating program is applied, so it is very hard to exploit and develop specific skills for each position group. Actually, the requirements for a principal’s capacity are different from those for a dean, and then different from those for the head of a university. The role of principal requires more strategic leadership for the development of universities, knowledge about state management in higher education, skills to operate the managing board, university board, and overall administration over the financial and human resources of the university. Meanwhile, a dean is required to have the ability to advise, consult the use and distribution of resources, coordinate, and connect within the organization to implement the corresponding plans. The subject head is required to have a profound understanding of the field and specialty so as to have ideas for designing, building, and supervising the training program and content, lecturers, etc. These aspects are currently manifested in the process of identifying job positions and descriptions in accordance with the regulations of the Ministry of Home Affairs(3) but the applied subjects are all officers who have not been standardized in the training and cultivating of programs for the above subjects.

As for the lecturers and program teaching method, most of them work in the institutions responsible for training and cultivating education management. Hence, there are limitations in deployment in the interference between professional knowledge and skills and knowledge, skills of state management, and internal management of universities. Lecturers at training and education institutions specializing in higher education will not be as good at state management as those at cultivation schools of the ministry, industry, and vice versa, which leads to situations where skills training in classes is impractical and unsuitable for learners. There is even a situation that a lecturer may be puzzled when explaining the state management issues in higher education in front of learners who have long experience in teaching this content. Meanwhile, lecturers from training institutions on state management often lack the experience of leadership and management over higher education models when invited to be the teacher for these courses, so the classes may be unconvincing to students or unable to cover all the possible situations, functionally, the inability convey information to learners when teaching. These difficulties originate from the content that makes the deployment of the training and cultivating method unconvincing or unable to deal with the difficulties which really need to be solved to improve leadership and the operating ability in the university for the course participants. Moreover, cultivation, without continuous adjustment and innovation, will gradually go the old formalistic path. The result may be that after learning, learners will receive certificates according to the provisions set at the beginning of the course, even if the aim to improve knowledge and skills is not achieved.

3. Directions to innovate the training and cultivating model for managers at public universities

The process to implement the autonomous regulations for higher education institutions and limitation of direct interference from state managing agencies in the past have yielded important results, and a lot of units have promoted their potential and strength in order to implement the mission, improve the financial autonomy, and even make a contribution to the State budget as well. However, in fact, the quality of higher education has not been appreciated by society, and the university apparatus is still cumbersome, with low effect and salary for lecturers. The managing mechanism in public universities has not been a breakthrough as compared with that in the state agencies in general. Hence, the issues which need care are posed in designing, building, and operating a cultivating system for managers in higher education institutions in order to improve the ability to operate and administrate universities in a context that demands labor market changes and increasing requirements for the output quality of students. This innovation can be implemented in the following directions:

Firstly, to unify the cultivating model for key leaders, who are holding positions or are in the leadership planning at public higher education institutions in association with the personnel work of the political system, it is necessary to build a model and design a specific cultivating program for this group. Among them, there should be close oversight of the cultivating program and standardization for such content of the program, which must be based on the capacity standards and characteristics of the job position of learners. Thus, there must be a separate cultivating program for the following three subjects: (1) Managing/Director Board and planned staff for positions at universities/academies, (2) Faculty leaders and planned staff for the positions, (3) Subject leaders and planned staff for the positions. The program frame for the university leader title particularly emphasizes the capacity to administrate and operate universities in the context of internationalization and the Industrial Revolution 4.0, which is undertaken by the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics. The faculty-level or subject level titles will be under the cultivating authority of the staff managing schools of the ministry, sector, and locality. For example, Article 20, Clause 2, Point a of the Education Law of 2012 states that a principal is required to have good political quality, morality, prestige in science and education, as well as managing capacity. However, when autonomy is implemented, the management thinking and operational mechanism of the university and the board must be consistent with an enterprise’s mechanism, which takes effect as the measure and respects self-determination and self-responsibility. This requires the head, apart from the general requirements, to focus on the requirements for State management thinking, economic thinking, and sensitivity with the market economy to meet the requirements for operating the autonomous unit. The cultivating content should focus on these aspects instead of scattering and discussing broad topics related to knowledge, skills of teaching, and scientific research, which are thoroughly studied in separate programs for university lecturers.

Secondly, full-time and part-time lecturers participating in cultivation are closely verified. In fact, most of those who are sent to study are leaders, managers, or are in line for positions in higher education institutions, and many have a high knowledge base, profound understanding of their job’s practice, and job seniority. Therefore, if lecturers do not equip practical knowledge, skills, and experience themselves, it is difficult to effectively implement the program in accordance with the proposed goal. The phase of managing learners and deploying methods will still encounter difficulties because students may not be active in learning if the content does not really deliver the benefits in developing capacity and inspire them. In order to create persuasion in both form and content of lectures, the lecturers are required to have a high level of specialty such as main lecturers who are currently the subject level leaders or higher at a university or department-level leaders or higher for a part-time lecturer of a ministry or industry.

Thirdly, the tools and methods used to evaluate the quality of the training and cultivating program should be built when the course is over. Such methods and tools must measure and prove the progress of learners as well as the achieved targets of the cultivating program in improving the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of learners. This requires real and responsible participation and serious and strong instruction of the head of the training and cultivating institution in order to identify output standards of the program n


l Endnotes:

(1) Enrollment has been discontinued since 2017.

(2) The aim for training masters level and university by industry/group where the  domestic training institutions have not been able to train or ensured sufficient conditions for quality training and by the practical demand to prioritize training for the higher education institution, science, and technology research agencies, other ministries, and industries of the State.

(3) Decree No. 36/2013/ND-CP of the Government on the job position and structure of civil servant scales and Circular No. 05/2013/TT–BNV guiding implementation of the Decree No. 36/2013/ND-CP.



Faculty of Politics, Vietnam Youth Academy

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