As a result of the agreement, 20 Vietnamese postgraduate students, supported by scholarships from the Vietnamese Government, will come to Armidale over the next five years to study for PhD degrees within the Faculty of The Professions at UNE. The first group of these students will arrive at UNE later this year.
The agreement is the result of discussions conducted with Vietnam International Education Development, Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, over the past year by UNE’s Professor Victor Minichiello, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of The Professions.
Professor Minichiello said that the PhD students would come from professional fields such as medicine and health, business, education, and law. “The project is grounded on the development of research capacity within Vietnam,” he said, “and on the development of collaborative relationships between researchers in Vietnam and at UNE.”
“It will not only contribute to a strong and vibrant postgraduate research culture on campus, but will forge links that will ensure strong and long-lasting relationships with Vietnam,” he said.
Dr Nguyen Xuan Vang, Director General of Vietnam International Education Development, said that Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training would like to increase the number of PhD students every year – to reach 10,000 PhD students undertaking overseas training by 2020.
The Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Jim Barber, said: “This program is important because it is a partnership arrangement with the Vietnamese Government at a time when Vietnam is reforming and building its higher education sector. The students will be conducting research on issues of national importance and relevance to Vietnam, with fieldwork and data collection taking place in Vietnam. This will ensure the development of knowledge generation and research capacity in Vietnam.”
“I look forward to welcoming the students and hearing about their progress as they undertake their studies at UNE,” Professor Barber added.
As a part of a long-term plan to recruit higher-degree research students from Vietnam, Professor Minichiello and Professor Grant Harman have been conducting a postgraduate research-student recruitment campaign in Vietnam that, last year, brought three new PhD students to UNE.
Ngo Thi Bich Thu, who worked as a teacher of English at Hanoi University, is currently working with Professor Len Unsworth in UNE’s School of Education on a PhD project investigating the deployment of the language of evaluation in English and Vietnamese by postgraduate students in Australia. ”Life in Armidale has been great: beautiful weather, very friendly and sincere people, cheap accommodation and food, and very good traffic,” Ms Thu said. “And my daughter is enjoying an excellent primary education in one of the highest-quality public schools.”
Dr Khoi Do is a medical doctor from Vietnam who worked as a senior program officer at PathFinder International in the Vietnam country office. He is enrolled in a PhD program in the School of Rural Medicine working with Professor Minichiello and Associate Professor Rafat Hussain. He is investigating how physicians in Vietnam manage sexually transmissible infections and HIV cases – with a particular focus on high-risk groups such as injecting drug users, sex workers, and men who have sex with men. He said his decision to come to study at UNE involved selecting “a good university with responsive supervisors, and a safe and friendly place to live with reasonable costs”.
Mai Phuong was a researcher working at the National Institution for Education Management in Hanoi, and has enrolled in a PhD program in the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy. She is working with Professors Minichiello and Grant Harman on a survey of Rectors (the Vietnamese equivalent of Vice-Chancellors), and examining their responses to changes in higher education as a result of both national and global reforms in the sector. “I’m enjoying the peaceful beauty of Armidale, with its autumn festival and magnificent parks,” she said. “It is an ideal place for a family to live.”
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here, showing (from left) Ngo Thi Bich Thu, Mai Phuong and Dr Khoi Do, expands to include Professor Jim Barber (left) and Professor Victor Minichiello.