PORTAL - On 11/11/2022, Vietnamese-German University (VGU) officially inaugurated its 50-hectare campus in Ben Cat Town, Binh Duong province. The new campus is built with modern facilities to ensure conditions for a research-oriented university according to German and international standards. This is an important foundation for the University to realize the goal of training high-quality human resources for the development of the Southeast region in general and Binh Duong province in particular.
On this occasion, Binh Duong Portal had an interview with Dr. Ha Thuc Vien - Vice President of VGU about the upcoming orientations of the University.
PORTAL: VGU was established and officially put into operation in 2008. Could you please tell me, what "destiny" brought the University to Binh Duong and the development orientation of the University? What makes VGU different from other training institutions?
Dr. Ha Thuc Vien: The idea of establishing VGU originated at the end of 2005, as a concrete implementation step to realize Resolution No. 14/2005/NQ-CP dated November 02, 2005 of the Government on fundamental and comprehensive renovation of higher education in Vietnam for the 2006-2020 period and Decision No. 145/2006/QD-TTg dated June 20, 2006 of the Prime Minister on guidelines and major orientations to build a world-class university (excellent university) of Vietnam. On September 01, 2008, the Prime Minister signed Decision No. 1196/QD-TTg establishing VGU on the basis of a "Letter of Intent" signed on May 21, 2007 and "Joint Declaration on the establishment of Vietnamese-German University" signed on February 29, 2008 between the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam and the Hessian Ministry for Science and the Arts, Federal Republic of Germany. On September 10, 2008, the University officially opened the first course with 35 students of the bachelor's program in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, the University's teaching activities started just a few days later. The cooperation project has been extended to the whole of Germany. The main partners involved in supporting VGU include the Hessen State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). In addition, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the World University Service (WUS) and the Association of German Universities supported VGU to engage in collaborative implementation support.
As a public university, but VGU was formed and developed following the model of Germany's leading research universities, taking excellence in training and research, with international standards and German quality, as a foundation. The training programs of the University are built and developed on the basis of cooperation with leading German partner universities, ensuring excellence in training and research. In the early stages of development, VGU focused on training and researching in the fields of science, high-tech engineering, information technology, architecture, economics and management that belong to Germany's training and research strengths and meet the needs of human resources to serve Vietnam's industrialization and modernization goals.
Compared to other universities, VGU has the following characteristics: First, it is the first public international university in Vietnam with a mission to test a new governance model based on the governance model of top universities in Germany, in order to train and research at an international level in Vietnam with German quality standards from the very beginning, to serve as a model for the Vietnamese higher education system.
Second, the Association of 36 top German universities provides academic support so that VGU can organize international quality training right from the first enrollment course and always improves the quality.
Third, all training programs, all lecturers must meet the standards of prestigious universities in Germany. Graduates of the university, although studying in Vietnam, are awarded degrees by both VGU and a German university.
Fourth, the program is taught entirely in English, in addition, all students receive additional German language lessons.
Fifth, the University Council consists of 20 members; in which 10 members are Vietnamese and 10 members are German, including ministers, deputy ministers, representatives of leading enterprises, and reputable scientists of the two countries.
Sixth, the VGU structure also includes the Senate - a special organization that no other Vietnamese university has. This is a feature of all German universities, ensuring the promotion of democracy and autonomy of the university, contributing to control and supervision of the decision-making process.
PORTAL - So, over 14 years of operation, what outstanding results has VGU achieved, sir?
Dr. Ha Thuc Vien: Over the past 14 years, VGU has cooperated with the Association of 36 top German universities to deploy 16 training programs out of a total of 24 training programs expected to open by 2025 (including 7 undergraduate and 9 master's degree programs) following the principles of the Bologna Process, with a total of 3,800 students and trainees who have been and are being trained, in 6 majors: Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering; Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Process; Engineering in Construction, Architecture and Sustainable Urban Development, Environmental engineer; Computer science; Economics and Administration. These are the areas of advanced engineering, technology and management, which are strengths of the Federal Republic of Germany. The total number of current students of the University is 2,477, including 1,897 undergraduate students and 550 graduate students. Besides Vietnamese students, there are 4.6% international students from 20 countries around the world studying at the University; about 40% of VGU students have taken their final semester at German universities with scholarships from DAAD, WUS, associations and enterprises.
The entire program is taught in English and students receive additional training in German.
All training programs being implemented at the University are currently accredited by prestigious German or international accrediting agencies (ASIIN, ACQUIN, AASCSB, ZeVA and applying European Standards and Guidelines). Students and trainees graduating are awarded Degrees of German partner universities and of the University.
Up to now, 1,348 students and trainees of the University have graduated, including 757 bachelors and 591 masters. More than 95% of graduates have jobs with good job positions, suitable for training occupations or continue to study at a higher level (master or doctorate); the University's graduates are considered by the German enterprise community to have the best quality in Vietnam.
Scientific research activities of the University are always paid great attention. Every year, lecturers of the University carry out many research projects with a total budget of tens of billions of dong. Research on demand by enterprises is also promoted by the university with a total budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Since 2014, 108 projects have been implemented and 373 scholarly articles published (of which 274 have been published in prestigious ISI/Scopus journals. On average, each lecturer publishes 1.4-1.6 scientific articles annually in leading ISI/SCOPUS journals, in the top 5 compared to universities in Vietnam). The University staff and lecturers have participated in 270 international seminars and conferences and 70 domestic seminars to present research, 92 VGU academic events and 33 international collaborative research projects and developed a wide academic cooperation network with many universities and institutes in the country and around the world. According to a recent webometrics evaluation that ranks the research capacity of Vietnamese universities based on citations, the University is ranked 11th.
Along with that, the University's students have achieved many excellent achievements in national and international science and technology innovation competitions. In addition to participating in many competitions for students at many levels (university, provincial, ministry, national and international scale), there are 46 student scientific research projects that have been and are being implemented.
In order to promote research activities and train young and potential scientists, the University cooperates with German universities to deploy doctoral training in 3 fields: Information Technology and Computer Science, Sustainable Urban Development and Engineering Computing since 2018. Currently, the university is submitting to the University Council for approval to open doctoral training in the field of Sustainable Manufacturing Engineering.
PORTAL - How important is the inauguration and put into use of the University's new campus in the development and training orientation of the University, sir?
Dr. Ha Thuc Vien: The new campus is built with modern features to ensure conditions for a research-oriented university according to German and international standards, providing an ideal learning, teaching, research and working environment for students, officers, lecturers and staff. Breaking away from the idea of "university building" with the image of a large architecture, the VGU campus approaches the university space in the direction of many different buildings forming a diverse and reasonable common campus. The total area of VGU campus is 50.5 hectares and 154,000 square meters of construction floor is invested nearly 200 million USD. The VGU campus offers a university urban ecosystem that includes fully functional areas such as academic buildings designed with the same model, only different in size and color, in the direction of simple and solemn; other buildings that include a Library, Conference Hall, Executive Building, Sports Center, Technical Center, Canteen, Dormitory for students and trainees, and housing area for experts and lecturers, etc. all have their own mark and stand out in the middle of the campus. In addition, each building uses a passive cooling system by taking advantage of design features, reducing emissions and save energy, helping to save operating and maintenance costs while improving the health of users.
As a research-oriented university according to German academic standards, VGU invests in high-quality infrastructure to provide a great learning environment and create the best conditions for scientific research activities with a total investment of more than 33 million USD. The university currently has a system of more than 21 specialized laboratories, along with countless common labs and computer labs to serve the teaching and research of students, lecturers and researchers. Experimental and teaching equipment, research facilities are still being expanded further to meet the growth in quantity and quality of the university.
The inauguration and putting into use of the new campus marks a new phase of the University's development and creates new breakthroughs in the Asia-Europe academic partnership. The inauguration ceremony and putting the project into use is a testament to the effective cooperation between Vietnam and the World Bank (WB), as well as the good relationship between Vietnam and Germany.
In the 2021-2030 period, the University focuses on strategic tasks:
Sharpening – concretizing the uniqueness of VGU as a university based on transnational higher education cooperation that creatively combines the German character and the VGU's specific tasks; in addition, enhances and strengthens the promotion of VGU's image. Striving to increase the number of training programs and triple the number of students and trainees, reaching the scale of 6,000 students by 2030. Building a complete accreditation system, transferring training programs from German partners to VGU, re-accrediting the program internationally after it is transferred, developing a model of double and concurrent degrees.
Taking steps towards building academic staff.
Promoting the development of doctoral training and close cooperation with German universities in various forms and ensuring German quality.
Strengthening research and research-related activities.
Increasing the effectiveness of the existing governance system and establishing a system of academic advisors.
Moving VGU's internal organization from "temporary" to "complete" in terms of number of units, management system and regulations. This should include a detailed quality management system.
Ensuring VGU's sound financial system.
Establishing a foundation for medium and long-term strategic planning, especially related to the governance and financial systems, significantly increasing student numbers and training programs, and strengthening VGU as a high-quality research university with an international reputation.
PORTAL: Located in a key area for industrial development of the Southeast region, VGU trains advanced technology according to German standards. So in the coming time, what orientation does VGU have to participate in the process of restructuring the industry and economy of the Southeast region in general and Binh Duong province in particular according to the spirit of the Politburo's Resolution No. 24 on socio-economic development and assurance of national defense and security in the Southeast region to 2030, with a vision to 2045?
Dr. Ha Thuc Vien: Germany is a pioneer country in initiating, developing and applying Industry 4.0, opening a new era of development. The idea and phrase of the 4th Industrial Revolution was also coined by German experts and today is widely used across the globe. The VGU construction investment project was started when the 4th Industrial Revolution was going strong, so the VGU's construction and development orientation from the early days has been associated with the developments and orientations of Industry 4.0 focusing on the fields of high technology, new technology, modern economics and sustainable development.
Training and research at VGU takes an original and complete approach to cutting-edge training programs developed by top German universities in the wake of the 4th Industrial Revolution and regularly updated with new science and technology. The program has integrated and added new skills necessary for graduates to be able to respond to the evolving needs of the professions of the 4th Industrial Revolution. VGU has built a modern infrastructure that responds to the digital transformation in all areas from infrastructure management to management of human resources, finance, operation and development planning of the University.
VGU has built modern laboratories for research and training to be ready to meet the 4th Industrial Revolution, such as: Technology platform IPC, Gateway, Server, smart sensors; Data Center; Metal 3D printing technology; IoT, Smart Factory; BIM; Collaborative robots; augmented reality, etc. to serve research, training and practice training programs with high demands on new knowledge and skills.
VGU prioritizes opening new programs to serve the current and future human resource needs of the 4th Industrial Revolution such as IT security, Smart Mobility, Data Science, IoT and AI.
We are confident that VGU's training and research activities will actively contribute human resources and scientific and technological results to the digital transformation of the Southeast region's economy in general and Binh Duong province in particular.
Thank you very much!
Content: Mai Xuan
Design: Thao Lam
Reported by Mai Xuan -Translated by Thanh Tam