If you have walked by colleges around Ho Chi Minh City recently, it is not hard to see long lines of students and parents tiredly waiting to withdraw their profiles.
Today is the last day for students in Vietnam to apply for their universities and colleges, and this year, entering universities is more troublesome for them because the Ministry of Education and Training has applied a number of changes to the university entrance exam and admission.
In previous years, after finishing their 12th year of school, students had to take two separate exams to graduate from high school and enter the university or college of their desire.
The high school graduation exam often took place at the end of June, while the university entrance test was administered at the beginning of July.
However, starting this year, the country has made a number of major changes in the process by merging the two exams into one.
Students will use the results of the exam, which is called the national high school exam, for graduation first, and then apply it to universities and colleges of their interest later.
This year’s national high school exam took place in July, attended by thousands of students from across the country.
At the end of the month, each student received four copies of a certificate of the exam results, including one main copy used to apply to university or college from August 1 to 20, which is called the first phase.
If students fail in the first phase, three other extra copies will be used for later, additional admission phases from September 15 to November 15.
In the first phase schools, after receiving students’ applications, will post names on an online list with scores ranked from high to low.
After August 20, schools will finalize the list and announce the scores which students need to reach to pass.
Successful candidates will be picked based on scores from high to low in accordance with the number of students which schools aim to recruit, which were already announced before the national high school exam.
Schools must update their lists no later than once every three days, according to the Ministry of Education and Training’s regulations, so that students can track their position to know if they are in the “safe zone” within the number of a school’s recruitment target.
During the process, students are also allowed to withdraw their application to apply to another school if they want to, or if they think they will fall out of the safe zone.
Students wait to withdraw their papers at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education on August 10, 2015. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Here comes trouble
According to Prof. Nguyen Minh Thuyet, former vice chairman of the Committee on Culture, Education, Youth, Teenagers and Children under the National Assembly, the changes this year have troubled schools, students and their parents.
“Schools have to wait until the end of the first phase to know how many students have applied to them, and then decide their entrance scores,” he said.
Moreover, students and parents have suffered more pressure because they have to check their schools’ list of applicants every day and are terrified of falling out of the safe zone.
Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong, principal of Luong The Vinh High School in Hanoi, also agreed that this year’s admission method is like gambling for students and parents, as they have to carefully consider before applying or withdrawing their papers.
In addition, students are required to visit schools which they applied to directly to withdraw their profile if they want to change schools, so trouble begins here.
While the number of students applying to several universities has increased every day, their recruitment targets have remained unchanged, so the number of applicants falling out of the safe zone, as a result, has risen day by day.
Then those who surely know they will fail, or are afraid that they will fail, have to withdraw their applications for other schools which they think will be safer, leaving schools stuck with returning profiles.
Although schools have mobilized their workforce to work with students, even on weekends, the process of returning papers is still slow due to the large number of people who want their papers back.
Mai Trinh, a student who successfully withdrew her papers from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education in District 5, said she had to register to get back her profile a day earlier and then wait in line for hours before she could make it. The situation is more troublesome for students and parents from other provinces and cities.
Many parents had to stop working for days to accompany their children to big cities to withdraw their papers and then apply to other schools.
A parent from the central province of Ninh Thuan said she spent VND2 million (US$89.29) making a round trip from her hometown to Ho Chi Minh City to withdraw her son’s papers.
Vo Thi Dieu, a teacher from the southern province of An Giang, also accompanied her daughter to Ho Chi Minh City to withdraw papers.
The mother and daughter had to wait in front of the school gate for hours because the bus from An Giang left them at the school at 5:00 in the morning.
“I thought it wouldn’t take much time to withdraw the application so I planned to come here early and then go back home early,” Dieu said.
“However, after we registered to withdraw, the school said it would return the papers to us the following day,” Dieu said, adding they had to stay in the city, while the next day she had a meeting with her school’s administrators.
Meanwhile, Tran Thi Nguyet, mother of Dau Thi Nhat Le, from the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, had to rent a motel room in Hue City and stay there for five days to wait and withdraw her daughter’s profile.
Moreover, Associate Professor Van Nhu Cuong said it would be unfair for students living in remote areas without Internet access to check the online lists regularly.
Another problem students have faced during this year’s college admission process is that they cannot apply to new schools since the schools they withdraw their profiles from have not deleted their information yet.
Duong Thi Lan and her daughter, from the central province of Binh Thuan, had to travel to Ho Chi Minh City three times within half a month thanks to the daughter’s paper processing.
She said her daughter applied to one school the first time, then returned to the city to withdraw papers the second time, and now the two are on their third trip back to Ho Chi Minh City to ask why the school has not deleted her daughter’s name from its list.
“I farm so I cannot stay here for long,” Lan said, mentioning she will have to go back home and return for a fourth time to apply to another school.
A number of students have chosen to take their papers back and then wait until the last days to consider the situation before making a final decision on which schools they will apply to.
Students and parents at Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University. Photo: Tuoi Tre