What do university lecturers actually do?

Hundreds of professors and associate professors give lectures at universities, but many do not conduct scientific research.

A report of the State Professorship Title Council shows that Vietnam has 1,600 professors and 10,000 associate professors, but only 200-300 are researchers.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOËT) said that only 40 percent of professors and associate professors are teaching at schools, while the other 60 percent work as managerial officers at state agencies.

According to Dr Nguyen Ngoc Hieu from the Vietnam-Germany University in HCMC, teaching and researching in Vietnam have no close relations.

About 30 percent of professors teach and do research, and the percentage of professors who teach only is nearly the same.

Hieu said the professors who only give lectures and do not do research exist in many countries.

In Germany, universities are classified into two groups which have different functions and tasks. The lecturers at schools focus on providing knowledge, while schools with community activities are not required to conduct research, but focus on teaching. At application-oriented schools, the professors must be both lecturers and researchers.

In Vietnam, there is no classification of schools, and the functions of the schools remain unclear.

He said that in Vietnam, schools recruit professors/associate professors not based on their real capability and experience, but on degrees. In many cases, schools employ professors/associate professors for unofficial purposes.

Hieu suggested that in Vietnam, since the school classification cannot be implemented, those who give lectures but don’t do scientific research should be considered ‘assistant lecturers’, and should not be given the professor/associate professor title.

Local newspapers cited a report showing that a professor was found working as an instructor for 44 postgraduates in three different majors, while another professor was assigned to instruct 12 postgraduates, and an associate professor was teaching postgraduates at the same time.

To fulfill lecturing and research tasks well, one professor/associate professor has time to instruct only one to two postgraduates.

Associate Prof Dr Nguyen Thien Tong pointed out that there are many problems in the policy. In Vietnam, professor/associate professor is an honourable title.

The titles are given for a lifetime and professors do not belong to one school, but to the nation. Professors not only work for certain schools, but also receive salaries from the State. Even if they no longer teach, and if they leave the schools for state agencies, they will still be professors.

By Nam Mai

Source: Viet Nam Net