Hoa Sen University (HSU) hosted an annual school meeting at the Palace Hotel in HCMC on the morning of March 2, 2013. The School Board and Administrators, together with department deans and faculty/staff, were delighted to welcome 24 distinguished guests, which included Prof. Pham Van Thuyet, Prof. Le Vinh Quoc, Prof. Luu Tien Hiep, Prof. Dang Quan Đuc, Dr. Vu Thi Phuong Anh, Dr. Nguyen Son Ha, Ms. Ngo Thi Phuong Thien, Mr. Le Nguyen Hong Phuong, Ms. Nguyen Thanh Thu Thuy and other researchers and specialists. The theme of this year's meeting was social responsibilities of the university in addition to other issues related to the operation of HSU.
Participants expressed five opinions which they felt may improve the operation and aspirations of HSU more efficiently. They were as follows:
The school-meeting participants also affirmed that HSU has organized many community activities, which have created links between the community and its students. Ms. Thuy from the Center of Education for Children with Disabilities and Deafness in Thuan An, expressed her satisfaction with the participation of HSU students regarding their assistance in translating English. She also commented that when students participate in community activities, they learn more skills, have a better understanding and have more positive feelings about people with disabilities and that it has improved the students' sense of responsibility to the community.
Ms. Le Dieu Anh works for the Vietnam Urban Association. Her organization is in great need of volunteering for community development programs. Perhaps the most relevant volunteers are students studying environmental majors or students studying General Education Program's courses.
Mr. Nguyen Son Ha was sincere in saying that it has been a long time since he last heard of a university talking about social responsibility. The Mekong Delta is in need of the students’ gray matter. He said that he has connections with Dong Thap province and is willing to connect HSU with community development activities in the province, for example, how to train farmers to welcome foreign visitors.
As for the needs of human resources, Mr. Hong Phuong said that there are two issues that universities need to address which is to train good human beings and good citizens. Another idea was that HSU needs to follow up and determine whether their graduate students have met the requirements of society.
Agreeing with the policy of strengthening the social responsibility of HSU, a participant suggested that HSU should continue to raise the awareness of faculty/staff and students on social responsibilities and capacity building in their disciplines. In addition to strengthening cooperation between the older and younger generations, there should be instructions on professional working styles, the effective use of tools and notably tools of communication and information technology.
Mr. Bao Doan gave a presentation on preparing a new course on inclusive development for a general education program that aims to equip students with theoretical-based and learned skills to work with the community.
Ms. Ngo Thi Phuong Thien shared her delight with regard to training programs and the ways in which HSU organizes its activities because these activities contain a creative spirit that each university needs to target to move forward. She raised a question about the school slogan and the possibility of carrying out a school-year slogan in one year; therefore, does HSU intend to extend the implementation of this slogan to 2015? To implement the theme, what are the overall action plans and annual department programs? The slogan “to live with dignity” indicates that all faculty, staff and students have to follow its high standards inside or outside the school, to which she also pointed out that she did not not see the faculty’s images in the slogan.
President Phuong said that HSU will extend the action plan for three years, but continue to perform long-term once we achieve relatively solid results. The reason for emphasizing student learning in the slogan is because we identify that there is an urgent need to quickly enhance the spirit of student integrity. From the general strategic plan, each department will propose their own program of action plans.
Prof. Pham Van Thuyet said that we need to use textbooks from the United States or France because we do not have enough qualified Vietnamese textbooks. We should not translate textbooks into Vietnamese, yet require students to read in foreign languages. This also helps students gradually progress in foreign languages. Another plan is that faculty can do the translation and other scholars like the participants in the meeting will assist in editing. When taking tests, students should be allowed to choose whether to take them in English or Vietnamese. We also need to learn Japanese so that students may take their tests in Japanese, however, technical terms must be written in English otherwise these terms will no longer reflect their contents.
President Phuong said HSU is trying to strengthen the teaching of English in various subjects, however, the yield of results have not been what was expected. Currently, third and fourth year students are required to study six courses in English in all academic programs. She indicated there is feedback that students were very pleased with the courses in English at HSU.
Mr. Le Vinh Quoc strongly agreed with the direction and vision of HSU. He added one suggestion which was, that to meet the requirements of society depends on how the HSU’s philosophy of education is interpreted. He expects that HSU will develop a model to become an advanced university in the world. Ms. Phuong Thien noted that HSU also needs to supplement the educational philosophy of Vietnamese scholars.
HSU is not interested in university rankings because only 500 out of over 16,000 universities have a world ranking. Does that mean that the remaining universities without ranking are not of high quality? However, HSU is interested in quality control of its training programs, therefore, it is necessary to monitor the progress of university quality.
Following the discussion, a buffet was served at the Palace Hotel where guests and hosts had more time to chat with each other is as much as they seldom have the time to see each other. HSU hopes to see their distinguished guests again next year with reports on the achievements of the projects that will be formed as a result of the ideas of this year’s meeting.
Translated into English Doan Thi Ngoc