The government injects billions of dollars into education but management is in the hands of Provincial People’s Committees. University administrators spend funds primarily on services, brick and mortar and salaries. Classroom construction is often badly done and without adequate controls. Whatever is left over from the budget goes into funding low quality education and training.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Vietnam’s university administrators are failing to give due consideration to human capital when they allocate funds; most of it ends up in brick and mortar as well as management salaries and costs... and graft.

State media reported that the Finance Ministry allocated US$ 5.6 billion to education. They also asked; where has all the money gone?

A professor from Ho Chi Minh City told AsiaNews, “that when the 2009-2010 school year started, stories started to appear in the media about school fees and poor children unable to go to school.” For him, “funds in the huge education envelope are more “virtual” than real. Management is poor and money tends to make its way into the “private” pockets of administrators and managers, especially in the universities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”

A professor at another Ho Chi Minh City university noted that “university staff salaries represent 5 per cent of the university’s budget. Administration costs 30 per cent, services and other material costs are another 30 per cent. What is left goes to build new classrooms, and is split according to the interests of those in positions of power.”

At a press conference last 23 May, officials from the Education and Training Ministry said that Provincial People’s Committees manage 74 per cent of the budget; other ministries and departments, 21 per cent, and the Ministry itsefl, a meagre 5 per cent.

For this reason, “ministry officials cannot evaluate how local authorities spend funds in education and training. Ordinary Vietnamese are also unable to evaluate the quality of education and how well the government is spending the money.”

Two researchers from Harvard University found that the country has “no university of great quality.”

Equally disturbing is the fact that local universities are missing out on the “international flow of knowledge.”

When the Intel Corporation advertised for local engineers, it was able to hire only 90 graduates out of 2,000 from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Information Technology, a sign that most students are not properly trained to work for such company because they get a substandard education from a “substandard university.”