VietNamNet Bridge – Projects for establishment of suburban campuses that co-locate the constituent parts of the Hanoi and HCM City National Universities have been implemented at a snail’s pace.
According to Dr Nguyen Minh Hoa from the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanity, most of Vietnam’s universities exist in isolation. They each have a head office for school management, lecture halls, laboratories, function rooms and, sometimes, school yards. There are no synergies among these schools.
Architect Tran Thanh Binh, Head of the School Design Institute, believes that the scheme of isolated universities is really a waste compared to a university town model.
Binh says that in ‘university towns,’ the more schools are gathered together, the more they can benefit from sharing the same infrastructure and material facilities. University towns provide a stimulating atmosphere for teaching and learning, for playing sports and doing scientific research. Good design would also provide for housing, markets, theatres and other facilities tailored to the needs of an academic community.
Though the idea’s been around for some time, it’s apparently not easy to build up university towns in the current conditions of Vietnam.
The Government in the time of the late Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet managed to take a step in this direction. Three big universities in Hanoi (the Hanoi General University, Hanoi Teachers’ University No 1 and the Hanoi Foreign Language Teachers’ University) were consolidated as Hanoi National University.
In 1995, the Government also consolidated nine universities in HCM City to form up the HCM City National University.
Plans for new campuses have been stalled. Under the rearrangement plan, the Hanoi National University was to be relocated on a 1000 hectare site in the Hoa Lac new urban area to the west of the capital, while the HCMC University would be located on an 800 hectare site northeast of the city center on the border with Binh Duong province. Each was to be a modern complex, to be built at a cost of seven trillion dong (nearly $400 million) apiece.
At that time, it seemed that people had reason to believe in the dream of the two modern university towns. However, soon after the project was announced, the Hanoi Teachers’ University No 1 was unexpectedly split from the Hanoi National University. Also in 1999, the HCM City Teachers’ University was split from the HCM City National University.
In 2000, more member units, including agriculture and forestry, economics, law, architecture also said good bye to the HCM City National University.
Experts said that these constituents of the two national universities separated because they did not want to move to the suburbs. Though the plan was to site the two big university centres far enough from the center that there would be plenty of land at reasonable cost, the constituent parts wanted to stay downtown.
Other members of the Hanoi National University still cherish the hope of building up ‘university towns’.
However, the Hoa Lac relocation plan has been very slow in implementation. It is expected that the facilities of the new Hanoi National University campus will not be ready until 2015.
The situation seems to be more satisfactory for the HCM City National University and its five constituent units.
According to Chau Ngoc Anh, Director of the Management Board of the new campus project, the HCM City National University project has investment capital of 6.800 trillion dong; 1,800 billion dong has so far been disbursed. Already, the five member universities have built facilities in Thu Duc district that can serve 20,000 students. Anh says spending must, however, be speeded up to complete the college town by 2013 as planned.
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