New doctoral instruction regulation sparks heated community debate

VIETNAM

A recently introduced regulation on doctoral training – Round 18/2021/TT-BGDT (Round 18/2021) – was approved by Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Schooling on 28 June 2021. It has ignited a heated debate between teachers and plan-makers.

Particularly, Round 18/2021 dismantled the necessity of intercontinental publishing as a prerequisite problem for PhD graduation that existed in the previous 2017 regulation.

The aged regulation demanded PhD candidates to publish two articles or blog posts in peer-reviewed publications prior to his or her ultimate thesis defence. Just one must be printed in a domestic journal, even though the other must be in an internationally indexed journal such as Clarivate World-wide-web of Science (WoS) or Scopus. The WoS/Scopus indexed posting could be replaced by either a reserve chapter or two intercontinental meeting papers prepared in a international language.

Underneath the new regulation, the necessity for global publishing has been eradicated it usually means that PhD candidates can now publish only in Vietnamese journals prior to graduation.

Large criticism

Due to the fact its publication, the new regulation has gained hefty criticism from scholars. Quite a few significant-profile scientists, in the two difficult and social sciences, have appeared in area media and social networks to categorical opposition to the new regulation.

According to these scholars, the new regulation may well sluggish down the ongoing internationalisation of the study program in Vietnam.

Talking to regional media Vietnamnet, Professor Ngo Viet Trung, chair of the Vietnam Mathematical Society, asserted that “requiring PhD candidates to have an international publication as a prerequisite situation of graduation is the most aim indicator of a ‘real’ doctor”, offered the current very low quality of supervisors and local journals.

Together the similar strains, he and Dr Le Huy Bac, a professor of literature at Hanoi Countrywide University of Education, argued that the new regulation “had halted the increasing enhancement of [Vietnam’s] social sciences” in unique.

Professor Bac acknowledged that when the old regulation was promulgated in 2017, he had not had any articles or blog posts in worldwide publications – but the old regulation experienced determined him to publish internationally because then.

Other noteworthy academic figures also appeared on community media to express problems about the new regulation, like Associate Professor Huynh Van Chuong, chair of Hue College, Affiliate Professor Phan Ha Duong from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology’s Institute of Mathematics, and Professor Nguyen Dinh Duc from Vietnam Countrywide University-Hanoi, between other people.

The formal clarification

In response to this criticism, Ministry of Training and Coaching reps spelled out that the new coverage aligns with the agenda of enhancing the autonomy framework outlined by the Increased Education Law’s Modification of 2018.

Chatting to Lao DongThe Labour – Dr Nguyen Thu Thuy, director of the ministry’s Increased Schooling Division, asserted that the new regulation only set a least bar in conditions of publications for PhD candidates. Higher instruction establishments had the discretion to set a better bar than the ministry’s prerequisite.

Deputy Minister Hoang Minh Son, who talked to Tien PhongThe Pioneer – argued that mandating PhD candidates to have an intercontinental publication, in a countrywide policy document, is not a typical practice. For occasion, the College of Malaya in Malaysia had to withdraw the necessity to publish WoS/Scopus papers for PhD candidates in social sciences in 2017.

Qualifications

To thoroughly comprehend the present-day discussion, we have to understand the context in which the outdated regulation (Round 08/2017) was unveiled. Especially, in 2016 there ended up significant concerns at the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS), the biggest graduate college in social sciences in Vietnam, about its doctoral training.

At that time, VASS was blamed for using on far too many doctoral pupils who had only a restricted ability for study. In 2016, community media in Vietnam revealed that there have been about 350 PhD graduates from VASS, equal to virtually a person PhD graduate for every working day. Meanwhile, from 2011 to 2015, pretty much 1,000 whole-time researchers from VASS only printed 22 WoS-indexed content.

These figures surprised the public and subsequently resulted in a scandal with VASS referred to as a ‘PhD incubator’ or ‘PhD hatching factory’. Due to the scandal, the Ministry of Training and Teaching promulgated the 2017 regulation as portion of an effort and hard work to improve the high quality of doctoral instruction.

Result of the aged regulation

The aged regulation resulted in two trends.

The first craze was a decrease in the amount of newly enrolled PhD students in Vietnam because 2018. In accordance to the Ministry of Education and learning and Training, the amount of recently enrolled PhD college students in 2017 was 3,074. In 2018 the quantity dropped to 1,496 and in 2019 the determine ongoing to minimize to 903.

The second development has been an expanding number of WoS/Scopus papers published by Vietnamese students. According to the SCImago database, in 2017 Vietnamese students revealed 7,034 Scopus-indexed content. The respective figures in 2018, 2019 and 2020 were being 9,182, 13,068 and 18,886.

On ordinary, the yearly development price of Scopus publications from Vietnam concerning 2017 and 2020 was 39%, which is among the optimum rates of development in the area. This advancement is not only noticed in tricky sciences but also in the social sciences.

Coverage problem

The recent discussion all over the new regulation on doctoral education, as well as the history to the 2017 a single, indicates confusion in the Ministry of Schooling and Training’s vision about doctoral instruction.

This confusion stems from the predicament of balancing quantity and high-quality investigate and of balancing domestically-oriented and internationally-oriented research. The problem of possessing far too many PhD graduates with reduced excellent skills has been identified as a chronic worry for extra than a ten years.

The 2017 regulation appeared to be an endeavor by the Ministry of Training and Coaching to emphasis on top quality and internationalisation. It is clear that the new Circular 18/2021 signifies a U-change.

Hiep Pham is an academic study fellow. He is at present director of investigation at the Hanoi-primarily based Edlab Asia Centre for Academic Study and Development. He is also the director of STAR Scholars Vietnam. His research contains schooling renovation and scientometrics.
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