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Professors discovered using unaccredited doctoral degrees in Vietnam

Thursday, January 29, 2015, 15:42 GMT+7

A number of instructors at a public university in Ho Chi Minh City have recently been detected using Ph.D. degrees granted by an American university which has not been recognized in the U.S.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

Tuoi Tre correspondents found a list of those who have Ph.D. degrees from the science management department of Saigon University that included three people using degrees granted by California-based International American University.

Two of them are lecturers N.T.L. and H.H.T., who received their Ph.D. degrees in 2010, and L.H.S., who got the degree in 2009.

The International American University is among a score of unaccredited U.S. universities and colleges which provide training programs in Vietnam, according to Dr. Mark A. Ashwill, the former country director of the Institute of International Education in the Southeast Asian nation.

In 2012, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) shut down the training programs of those schools and said that it would not recognize certificates conferred by them.

“Studying in that course was my personal demand and it was funded with my own money, not the state budget,” L.H.S., who enrolled in an online training program of the International American University, told Tuoi Tre.

“After learning that the school’s degree was not recognized in Vietnam, I found that in 2009 there was no detailed regulation on whether degrees from online Ph.D. programs were recognized in the country,” he added.

Meanwhile, H.H.T. said he is in the process of getting accreditation for his degree.

“On January 20, I went to the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City for accreditation procedures,” T. said.

Tuoi Tre reporters contacted Saigon University’s science management and human resource departments regarding the issue. The departments said they were not able to give an answer and told the reporters to meet with the school’s rector, who they were unable to reach through telephone or text messages.

An instructor from Saigon University said he did not know why the school would recruit instructors with unaccredited degrees.

“As an instructor, I could not understand that a school run under the state budget with the duty of training high-quality human resources for the city could accept ‘fake’ Ph.D. degree holders teaching their students,” he stressed.

Nguyen Xuan Vang, head of the Vietnam International Education Development under MoET, said information on the unaccredited schools was published in 2010.

“In 2007, the Ministry of Education and Training issued regulations on recognizing degrees granted by foreign educational institutions to Vietnamese people, including rules on online courses,” he said.

“Degrees from online courses conferred by foreign institutions can only be recognized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training when the courses are approved in Vietnam by the ministry,” he underlined.

“Degrees awarded by foreign institutions, including the International American University, which are not recognized in their home countries, are not recognized in Vietnam.”

What do other schools say?

Prof. Hoang Van Chau, rector of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, said the school will not recognize degrees from the unaccredited American schools. Other degrees of people who have studied abroad will be recognized.

According to the deputy principal of another university, most degrees obtained from universities abroad are acknowledged at his school.

He also added that the school will assess and accredit its instructors’ master’s and doctoral degrees granted by foreign institutions post-2007 since the Ministry of Education and Training has asked the school to do so.

Meanwhile, many other universities in Ho Chi Minh City have taken strict control of degrees earned from foreign universities and require that they be accredited and recognized by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training.

Dr. Nguyen Huu Huy Nhut, chief of the personnel department of the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, said the school once refused to recognize one of its instructors’ degrees because the instructor studied in an unaccredited foreign affiliate program.

According to Dr. Nhut, there are so many foreign training programs that his school requires all master’s and Ph.D. degrees granted by foreign institutions submitted to it be accredited by MoET.

Meanwhile, Dr. Do Van Dung, president of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, said the school has announced that it will not recruit anyone who has studied in unlicensed programs.

Another rector of a private university explained that many universities now need master’s and doctoral degree holders so that they can create a teaching team with an impressive image.

Many universities are even racing to recruit permanent instructors with doctorates so that they can increase their enrollment targets as well as offer new majors due to a MoET regulation issued in 2011, stipulating that a university can only admit students to a certain major if its tenured lecturers are able to cover at least 70 percent of the curriculum.

Moreover, the university must employ at least one permanent lecturer holding a Ph.D. and three others with a master’s degree in the field they are going to teach, according to the MoET regulation.

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