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Fulbright University Vietnam ensures global quality for local students: president

Friday, August 28, 2015, 07:38 GMT+7

As the first-ever American-style non-profit private university in Vietnam,  the Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) has pledged premium training quality at affordable tuition to gifted local students, its president has affirmed.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

In a recent interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Dam Bich Thuy – a successful entrepreneur, board member of the Trust for University Innovation in Vietnam and FUV President – divulged detailed information regarding the facility’s recruitment policy, curriculum and financial aid for its students, among other issues.  

She began the interview by revealing that FUV will adopt U.S. teaching methodology while tailoring part of its content to the Vietnamese corporate situation.

Its curriculum will also encompass subjects and majors such as Vietnamese studies and literature which have yet to receive due attention at Vietnamese universities.

“We don’t want FUV to be an FDI project which will adopt an all-U.S. curriculum and teaching staff. FUV stands out from FDI-modeled schools in that it receives funding from the government and Vietnamese individuals and organizations apart from financial resources from the U.S.,” Thuy noted.

“FUV will also be the first-ever U.S.-style non-profit private university in Vietnam. We will also enjoy curriculum freedom that is expected to make a difference to the existing Vietnamese private higher education system,” she added.

Preparations are gearing up so that school will begin the first recruitment batch in September 2016.

“We aim for FUV to be a modern campus which will boast open spaces for students to engage in extracurricular activities. Classrooms will be furnished with cutting-edge equipment to facilitate students in working and interacting online with lecturers and their peers at FUV’s partner universities in the U.S.,” the president pointed out.

F7qifmvW.jpgRepresentatives of Fulbright school are seen receiving an investment certificate from Party leader of Ho Chi Minh City, Le Thanh Hai (third, left). Photo: Tuoi Tre.

To start with, FUV will admit between 80 and 100 postgraduate students for its two-year Master’s program in public policy.

Potential enrollees are civil servants and office workers at state-owned enterprises.

Those working in private businesses who wish to undertake jobs in public policy and management are also eligible for admission.

Thuy added that FUV is set to debut its Bachelor program in 2017 at its two member schools- the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Fulbright College.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science will provide Bachelor and Master’s programs in the fields of technology, applied sciences, math and computer science.

Meanwhile, Fulbright College will offer Bachelor courses in social sciences and the humanities.

These two member schools will get going and begin enrolling simultaneously so as to offer students a “second chance” by allowing them to switch to another major, or take two majors at the same time.

The move aims to make sure students will not regret the university entrance decision they make when they are 18 years old, and guarantee them boundless career opportunities which are not restricted by their major choices, Thuy stressed.

Enrolment for Bachelor programs will be based on high school students’ grade point average and, most importantly, an interview in which interviewers will take into close consideration candidates’ personal capacity, social activity, aptitude and leisure pursuits.

With courses offered in English, FUV teaching staff will include expat lecturers and Vietnamese colleagues who lecture at universities in the U.S., Thuy said.

To ensure training quality, lecturers are supposed to work in Vietnam long enough to build a rapport and bond with their students, she noted.

“We care more about our enrollees’ knowledge and capacity than their English competence. We have anticipated students’ difficulties in studying in English only and will help them get over these hurdles by engaging them in three-month or six-month intensive English courses in which knowledge in their major will also be incorporated step by step,” the FUV President underlined.

Regarding monetary grants to students, Thuy admitted that in the initial phase, FUV will not be capable of offering effective financial assistance programs as large U.S. universities do.

“However, with one of FUV’s principles hinging on widely available access, affordable tuition and diversity, we also focus on empowering Vietnamese women and members of underprivileged groups,” she pointed out.

Needy students, particularly those from rural, remote areas, will be considered for scholarships based on their family’s financial situation as well as their own capacity, learning goals and career plans.

Outstanding students will also be in line for scholarships.

“Large U.S. enterprises operating in Vietnam are willing to sponsor FUV’s activities as long as we can convince them of our training and ‘product’ quality, which are synonymous with  high-performing personnel for their companies,” Thuy assured.

She added that FUV’s U.S. partners have also proposed that the Vietnamese government consider granting scholarships to its students.

Thuy emphasized that no universities in Vietnam have been internationally accredited on a school level.

Only certain majors at some schools have gone through international accreditation, she added.

“To start with, FUV will employ internationally accredited programs at U.S. universities. Six years later, when we have enough data as required, FUV will register for international quality recognition at prestigious U.S. university accreditation agencies,” she said.

Fulbright University Vietnam is invested in by the Trust for University Innovation in Vietnam (TUIV), an NGO based in Boston, U.S.

TUIV is responsible for mobilizing finances from American and Vietnamese sponsors, managing the funding from the U.S. government and monitoring FUV’s performance.

FUV has so far generated approximately US$40 million in capital in both cash and items.

The capital flow, which mostly comes from the Vietnamese and U.S. governments, companies in Vietnam (mainly U.S. firms operating in the Southeast Asian country and a number of Vietnamese enterprises) and philanthropists (including Vietnamese citizens, expats living in Vietnam and those living abroad), is expected to reach $100 million after five years.

The Vietnamese government has granted FUV a 15-hectare land plot at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park in District 9.

“The capital mobilization in Vietnam is also meant to foster Vietnamese people’s philanthropic contributions for social development,” Thuy stressed.

FUV’s member schools – the Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management, the School of Engineering and Applied Science and Fulbright College – will principally partner with the Harvard Kennedy School, Arizona State University, Loyola University Chicago and the University of California, Irvine, in the U.S., respectively.

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