This is yet another example of the Vietnamese government’s flexibility, as well as its ability to make mid-course corrections and learn from past mistakes.
A new government decree to ease the way for foreign investment in education in Vietnam, likely to be approved by the country’s leadership as early as June, will streamline procedures and reduce bureaucracy for setting up foreign branch campuses in the country.
The new decree will replace Decree Number 73 issued during 2012 which relates to foreign investment and collaboration in higher education. The new decree will increases the minimum investment capital to set up a foreign-backed university, from VND300 billion (US$13 million) under Decree 73 to a minimum of VND1 trillion or approximately US$45 million, excluding the land value for university construction.
“The draft decree is being revised and we have almost been through our internal procedures, so I hope we will be going to submit it to the government, to the prime minister, to issue next month or July,” Nguyen Xuan Vang, the director general for international cooperation in Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, told University World News last week.
Significantly, this article includes a reference to Fulbright University Vietnam as an “existing project.”
The new decree will, however, not apply to foreign-funded projects already under way such as Fulbright University Vietnam or FUV, an independent non-profit university funded by the United States and Vietnamese governments.
“Fulbright has been set up and they have submitted their application for the operating licence,” Vang said. “When they will be granted the operating licence, then they can recruit students, they can set up the university, but in order to operate they have to be able to show that they have faculty, they have staff, they have everything ready for quality assurance.”
Vang thought FUV’s operating licence could be granted by the end of this year, at the very earliest in September this year.
The project had been embroiled in a controversy over the appointment last year of Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, US senator, and alleged war criminal as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees. He is said to have quietly resigned from his high-profile position in recent weeks.
Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a Hanoi-based educational consulting company, said: “If Bob Kerrey had stayed on, FUV would have remained a project and the red light would not have changed. By leaving, the red light quickly changed to green.”
The quote from me was excerpted from this 26 May 2017 article The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position, which was widely distributed and quickly translated into Vietnamese.
Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.