An Overview of Vietnamese Higher Education in the Era of Globalization: Opportunities and Challenges Luu Nguyen Quoc Hung Can Tho University, Vietnam Abstracts Globalization is a multifaceted process with economic, social, political and cultural implications for higher education. In Viet Nam, the phenomenon of globalization has both brought out opportunities and posed the country numerous challenges for the past few years. This article reviews major concepts of globalization with the focus on opportunities and challenges posed by this process for the current Vietnamese higher education system. Introduction Viet Nam has entered the new millennium with the emergence of a new era: the era of globalization, which has dramatically transformed world trade, communications and economic relations since the late twentieth century, and is increasingly having profound influence on education at the start of the twenty-first century. This new phenomenon of globalization has both provided great opportunities and posed new challenges for school leaders and their staff in different aspects of education. To survive and succeed in the new era, educational administrators in general and higher education leaders in particular are required to recognize their institutional strengths and weaknesses, to identify vital changes in the new environment, and most importantly, to manage these changes strategically and effectively. Globalization: A glimpse of the process The phenomenon of globalization can be interpreted differently in different situations. From an economic viewpoint, globalization means ‘a process of increasing involvement in international business operations’ (Saee 2005). From a sociological perspective, globalization is conceived as ‘a more pervasive force throughout the world’ (Saee 2005). Saee (2005) also commented, ‘globalization occurs when the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede as people around the world become increasingly aware that they are receding.’ Marquardt and Berger (2003) generalized globalization as ‘a single market place with growing free trade among nations; the increasing flow and sharing of information, connections, or links of people around the world; the opportunity for organizations and people to shop around the world and not be constrained by national boundaries.’ Further, these writers indicated the four Ts – technology, travel, trade, and television – as main forces leading the world to a ‘Global Village’.
For higher education, globalization can be defined as ‘forces that are transforming the university from an institution with a monopoly on knowledge to one among many different types of organizations serving as information providers, and from an institution that has always been circumscribed by time and geography to one without boundaries’ (Atkinson 20010). It is also crucial to differentiate globalization from internationalization because these two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably. In this paper, globalization is presented as a phenomenon influencing higher education while internationalization refers to the ways in which higher education responds to the opportunities and challenges of globalization (Uvalic-Trumbic 2003). More specifically, Egron-Polak (2002) viewed ‘internationalization as a pro-active effort on the part of universities to embrace their universal nature by opening their curriculum, their research, their classrooms and networks to the world’. Globalization is a multifaceted process with economic, social, political and cultural implications for higher education. The impact of globalization is profound. In Viet Nam, in the era of globalization, the higher education system is facing challenges as well as opportunities, many of which are in common with the whole world higher education’s challenges and opportunities. Some of the opportunities are ‘increasing supply of education and opportunities for students, support for the knowledge economy,...
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