NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PRIORITIES
On November 19, 2018, the National Assembly enacted Law no.34/2018/QH14, which revises the higher education legislation no.08/2012/QH13 passed in June 2012. This new law, which took effect from July 1, 2019, makes major adjustments to the policy of higher education development, especially in the process of empowering HEIs [speech by Mr. Vu Duc Dam, Deputy Prime Minister, Conference on Promoting Studies, Talents and Learning in Vietnamese HEIs and Colleges, 23/5/2017, Hanoi].
This legislative revision is a continuation of the reform of higher education and research in Vietnam inaugurated by the Government's Resolution No. 77/NQ-CP, dated October 24, 2014, on the establishment of a pilot project for a renovation of management mechanisms of public HEIs. To date, this resolution has enabled 23 public HEIs to become autonomous out of a total of 235 HEIs including 170 public ones.
Article 32 on empowerment and accountability in Chapter 3 on the obligations and duties of HEIs of Law no.34/2018/QH14 specifies the conditions and scopes of the process of empowerment of HEIs:
- Organization of academic and scientific activities: definition and implementation of a quality policy and of the quality assurance and monitoring system; opening of a new training program; recruitment of students; construction of training programs; implementation of scientific and technological research activities; partnership relations in accordance with the law.
- Institutional and personnel organization: promulgation, implementation of internal regulations on the hierarchical and functional organization chart; job profiles and regimes; recruitment, utilization and dismissal of teachers, executives, administrative and technical staff; decision on the positions of leaders and managers within it in accordance with the provisions of the law.
- Management of its own financial and infrastructure resources: promulgation and implementation of internal regulations on revenue sources; diversification of funding resources; tuition, scholarship, and other policies consistent with the law.
In its Higher Education Governance and Financing Policy released on May 31, 2017, Cambodia's Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports emphasizes that "governance and finance are fundamental to advancing higher education and improving its quality. Without good governance in place, increased public funding dedicated to higher education, and improved financial management in HEIs, improving the quality of higher education to meet the needs of an advanced economy and society is hardly achievable." This approach is in line with the Higher Education Policy in relation to the 2030 vision in relation to the Higher Education Reform Medium Term Action Plan for 2014-2018, and the draft of the Higher Education Roadmap 2017-2030.
This higher education governance and financing policy aims to define comprehensive and interrelated strategic reform measures to improve the governance and financing of higher education at both the system and HEI levels, in order to grant full institutional autonomy, ensure full accountability of HEIs, and define the framework for government financial support, particularly to public HEIs. It also aims to have all 48 public HEIs fully autonomous by 2030.
Article 5, bullets 5.7.2 and 5.7.3, on the strategic directions of the Higher Education Policy also emphasizes the need to "develop a plan to improve governance and management in the higher education sector" and to "develop a plan for the establishment of a 'model' HEI in Cambodia that operates autonomously and of high quality".
Regional thematic priority: ASEAN
The main objective of the project, which is to strengthen the capacity of partner HEIs to define and implement strategic planning in a context of empowerment, is complementary to the policy defined by ASEAN regarding the quality of activities developed by HEIs in the Southeast Asia region: the process of empowerment of HEIs is indeed inseparable from their obligation of accountability to the stakeholders concerned by the activities they develop. The political will to empower HEIs, as expressed by the two governments concerned, implies that HEIs must define and implement a quality policy and a mechanism to ensure and monitor this quality policy.
Meeting all these challenges implies that an HEI must define and manage a university governance system that is necessarily innovative because it is associated with a strategic planning process that is likely to provide answers to numerous constraints: functional, technical, organizational, human, time, and cost. This approach must enable the HEI to identify foreseeable risks, difficulties and obstacles that are seen as limits to strengthening the quality of its activities; above all, it must enable it to implement corrective and innovative measures as part of a continuous improvement process.
This explains why the PURSEA project is in line with the priorities of both the HEIs and the governments concerned in relation to reforms in higher education and research.