Vietnamese - Australian exchange brings research and economic benefits
22 August 2013
An ambitious collaboration between the University of Sydney and Hue University, designed to develop Vietnam's agricultural economy, is being marked this month with a visiting delegation from Vietnam.
"We all feel we are involved in something extraordinarily important for Vietnam and for Southeast Asia, with benefits for both our institutions," said Professor Alan Randall, head of the University's Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics which is spear-heading the program.
The collaboration between the two universities is in response to a Vietnamese government initiative in 2009, created with World Bank support.
As part of a major push to upgrade higher education across Vietnam the decision was made to introduce advanced English-language degrees based on curriculum from leading overseas universities, including the University of Sydney.
"The challenge is to how to model the Vietnamese program on our Bachelor of Agricultural Economics with a major in Finance, taking into account the difference in Vietnam's geography, economy, institutions and governance," Professor Randall said.
"The outcome will be graduates who can contribute to Vietnam's modernisation, by advancing quickly to leadership positions in business and finance, government, non-government organisations, and at universities."
Teaching commenced in 2011 with students chosen through a highly competitive national exam, followed by a year of English preparation.
Dr Tran Huu Tuan is a Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Economics and Development Studies, College of Economics, Hue University, recognised as a prestigious training and research institution for all of Vietnam, and one of six academics currently visiting from there.
"Farming is still often done on small scale, family operations in Vietnam. We are still in the early stages of becoming a market economy so this degree is crucial to creating experts who can establish market networks, especially for exports, and help modernise the financial sector," he said.
Vietnam is an exporter of products such as rice, cotton and tea with plans to develop its seafood and coffee industries. "For this transition in our economy we need to develop the quality and productivity of our agriculture while also thinking about sustainability," Dr Tuan said.
Teachers from the University of Sydney are from Agricultural and Resource Economics, the School of Economics and University of Sydney Business School, while those from Hue University have similar expertise. The academics visit each others' countries to present and develop the five-year course.
"The Vietnamese academics start by observing, rapidly taking on a greater role while also helping adapt the course to the Vietnamese context, until they are teaching the entire course. We phase out our teaching and they take over," said Professor Randall.
Several of the Hue University academics plan to pursue PhDs at the University of Sydney and it is also expected several graduates of the advanced undergraduate program will pursue PhDs at the University.
"There is a major opportunity for research linkages and an ongoing bilateral exchange, to the benefit of both countries," Professor Randall said.
"We are delighted that of the 38 bilateral programs set up in 2009 the University of Sydney-Hue program was recently evaluated as one of the top five successes alongside programs from America and Europe."
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