Established in 2005, the president’s online office of the Hanoi University is the place where students can raise questions directly with the president and talk directly about all issues, from exams and marks to administrative questions.
VietNamNet Bridge – As debate rages over communications between students and teachers one University is hoping to set a good example. But is it enough?
The office was established based on the initiative of Nguyen Xuan Vang, former President of the university. To date, 153 questions have been sent to the office and 100 answers have been given by the head of the university.
The Hanoi University has been organising open dialogue between students and presidents every year.
“I have provided my email, so students can email me directly in case they do not want to make their opinions public,” Vang said.
He stressed that dialogue can bring three good outcomes. First, students can point out problems, so that the university can settle them. Second, leaders of the university can receive information from reliable channels. Thirdly, students can give suggestions which serve as good ideas for improvement.
President of Thang Long University Phan Huy Phu said that a lot of changes have been made by the university after it received reasonable proposals from students.
Regarding tuition fees, the hot topic now on students’ forum, Phu said that universities need to go public about fee levels before students register.
“Students need to be informed about tuitions in advance. And when they register to study, that means they accept the tuition levels,” he said.
As such, when students dare to speak out and universities listen to their students, problems can be easily settled.
However, according to Dr of Sociology Trinh Hoa Binh, students still dare not speak out until there is a mechanism that encourages and protects the ‘right to speak’.
Binh said the heads also fear that the activities of other people may affect their power or their benefit.
Therefore, heads of organisations, in many cases, are not ready to ‘listen with all ears’ to other people.
Dr Bui Tran Phuong, president of Hoa Sen University, said old ways of thinking always dignify the heads of organisations - therefore, it is not easy for heads to accept others criticism.
Meanwhile, Phuong believes Vietnamese students do not have the habit and the skills to express opinions. Therefore, not all students are ready to have open dialogues with lecturers
Dr Vu Thanh Tu Anh, director of the Fulrbright Economic Teaching Programme, related that he knows a lot of students who do not have independent thinking even when they have been working for 3-5 years.
“They just do what others tell them to do,” he said.
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