University autonomy: Constraints and bottlenecks need to be removed

After some public universities piloted university autonomy in the period of 2014 – 2017, by the end of 2018, the content of university autonomy was officially included in the Law Amending and Supplementing a Number of Articles of the Law. Higher education, effective from mid-2019.

 

PGS.TS. Hoàng Minh Sơn, Hiệu trưởng Trường Đại học Bách khoa Hà Nội. Ảnh: HUSTAssoc.Prof.Dr. Hoang Minh Son, Rector of Hanoi University of Science and Technology. Photo: HUST

Assoc.Prof.Dr. Hoang Minh Son – Rector of Hanoi University of Science and Technology, one of the first institutions to implement the autonomy mechanism – gave an interview with Science and Development Newspaper about experience and necessary conditions. to exercise autonomy truly.

It is known that in 2011, Hanoi University of Science and Technology began to implement the autonomy mechanism from part to the whole today. Can you talk about the biggest difficulties when a university is becoming autonomous?

The first difficulty was financing because the State did not provide recurrent and investment expenses. The second difficulty is that although Resolution 77 [October 24, 2014 of the Government on piloting university autonomy] assigns a lot of rights to universities, the reality is that the schools have not been able to fully implement it due to the documents. other laws. For example, in principle, we can decide investments, tuition fees, revenue sources … but we are also subject to the State Budget Law and the Public Investment Law. The school also has the autonomy in the personnel work, but that being said, the Law on Officials strictly regulates the recruitment and evaluation of staff, the school is not easy to arrange the optimal staff as desired. In addition, the State has determined that instead of allocating regular and investment expenditures, it will place orders and assign tasks to schools, but so far this mechanism has not been realized.

What has the school done to address these difficulties, sir?

The school must guarantee its own revenue, which means that there is no other way to increase tuition. In order to do so, students and their families and society alike must feel the increase in tuition and quality. For the first few years, the University used the reserved capital to invest in facilities and quality assurance conditions. Those were austerity years, spending a lot but not able to increase income for teachers immediately. This context also led us to change the management mechanism so that it was really effective and changed the perception and perception of officials and lecturers. Previously, managers of units only followed the direction from the top down, according to the assigned tasks but now they must be very active in implementing the goals set by the University in the strategy.

How did officials and lecturers react during the “austerity” period?

I can only say that most of the staff and lecturers of the Polytechnic are very passionate and attached to the University. For 2 years, our staff has not been able to increase their income while the outside environment – business, industry, and other private schools – is very competitive. But all understand that autonomy will open up many opportunities for development, and thus strongly support the autonomy process, accepting difficulties ahead.

Without self-control, what development opportunities can we lose?

Autonomy is a basic attribute of the university. Without autonomy, our universities will be like state-owned enterprises before, stagnant and inefficient, difficult to create, develop internal resources, and mobilize resources from outside to improve the quality.

Speaking of quality, we must mention the staff, lecturers and facilities (classrooms, laboratories, textbooks, documents …) – all require appropriate investment. Before autonomy, schools were funded but this amount was small, while tuition fees were low and subjected to a ceiling, so student spending was low, resulting in quality that could not go up. Part of the current autonomy mechanism is to fulfill the responsibility of sharing funds between the State and learners and society in order to increase the quality of training. Comparing the relative rate with the average income of the people, in general, the tuition fee in Vietnam is quite low compared to other countries in the region.

In short, without promoting the autonomy mechanism, we will lose opportunities to develop higher education like agriculture in our country 30 years ago without implementing the lump-sum mechanism under Resolution 10 of the Ministry of Government. treatment.

A problem arises when the autonomy mechanism is implemented internally in the University, that is, it increases the gap in revenues between faculties / institutes: departments / training institutes of hot industries, favorable enrollment will have higher revenues, and officials and lecturers of those units will have a better life. How does Hanoi University of Technology solve this problem?

The decentralized and autonomous school for the units is very strong, including financial decentralization, but at the same time has a reasonable regulatory policy. Autonomy does not mean autonomous for each unit. The units are decentralized larger but does not mean each unit is an oasis. If we look at the contribution of the units as a process, depending on the stage that the contribution is training or research, then we will see that the regulation is to ensure fairness and sustainable development.

The school develops a very scientific financial regulation to motivate departments / institutes to increase revenues from high quality training programs, from science and technology activities, service activities and funding. In addition, the University has strict regulations to ensure that revenues are used most effectively with the aim of improving the quality of training and improving the lives of officials and lecturers. Of course, the disparity in income is inevitable and even necessary, especially when “hot” lecturers have many opportunities to go out and the University must have appropriate incentive mechanisms to retain. The good news is that all faculties / institutes of the University have significantly increased the income of lecturers, reaching a high level in public universities.

A number of private universities, with abundant financial resources and a pay-and-pay mechanism 4-5 times higher than public schools, are increasingly attracting talent from public schools. Some call it the brain drain phenomenon in public schools, others argue that national resources won’t go anywhere, the market will allocate in the optimal direction. In your opinion, is this a fair competition for public schools, especially in the context of self-control and frequent expenditure cuts?

 

TS Nguyễn Duy Cường, người đang nghiên cứu về pin năng lượng mặt trời, làm việc trên thiết bị phún xạ ở Viện Tiên tiến Khoa học và Công nghệ - AIST, Đại học Bách khoa Hà Nội. Ảnh: HUST

Dr. Nguyen Duy Cuong, who is researching on solar batteries, works on sputtering equipment at the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology – AIST, Hanoi University of Science and Technology. Photo: HUST

Is there any mechanism for the School to make its recommendations to policy makers?

The best mechanism for effective investment by the State is to build a research fund and attract talents, dedicated to universities and independent of all state management agencies. Similar to NAFOSTED, this funding is based on competency competency; The other is university and program funding, rather than individual and subject-based funding.

Sincerely thank you.

According to Development Science