Flemish and French-speaking rectors sign up to further cooperation with Vietnam
A delegation of rectors and representatives of Flemish and French-speaking universities visited Vietnam from 10 to 16 April 2011. The main purpose of the trip was to explore new forms of cooperation between higher education institutions in Belgium and Vietnam. The highpoint was the joint signing of a memorandum of understanding on further cooperation between Belgian and Vietnamese universities.
The Vietnam trip was an initiative of the Belgian ambassador to Vietnam, Hubert Cooreman, and rector Paul Van Cauwenberge (UGent). VLIR-UOS coordinated the trip at the Flemish end. UGent, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, KU Leuven, UHasselt, UA and VLIR-UOS were the Flemish representatives.
Memorandum of understanding on new cooperation
The delegation visited universities in Hue, Hanoi, Can Tho, and Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi hosted a joint seminar where all Belgian and the main Vietnamese universities signed a memorandum of understanding in the presence of the Belgian ambassador and a representative of Vietnam’s ministry for education. Among other things, the various parties undertook to set up a new partnership in the form of credit exchange, joint and double degree curricula, joint research, doctoral schools and technology transfer.
Vietnam is a Belgian development cooperation partner country. The cooperation between Flemish and Vietnamese universities has essentially been shaped since 1998 as part of the VLIR-UOS Institutional University Cooperation with Hanoi University of Science and Technology and Can Tho University. This partnership has helped transform the two Vietnamese universities. International relations were in their infancy back in 1998, but the universities have since grown into strong, dynamic education and research institutions with worldwide cooperation links.
Former scholars hold senior positions in Vietnam
The scholarships are another spearhead in the cooperation with Vietnam. Over the past decade VLIR-UOS has invested heavily in scholarships for PhDs, MScs and professional trainings. Between 2004 and 2010 VLIR-UOS awarded 85 scholarships to Vietnamese students to follow a Master’s degree course at a Flemish university, with a further 59 scholarships for training and 26 scholarships for PhDs. A huge number of former scholars at Flemish universities now hold senior positions in Vietnam’s political, business and academic world. During the seminar in Hanoi a new website was unveiled for Vietnamese alumni (www.vietbelalumni.org), developed by the section of the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation in Hanoi.
International and development cooperation
Vietnam continues to be a main partner country for the Flemish universities. Given that great differences still exist among the various Vietnamese universities, Flanders will make a distinction between more advanced institutions and developing institutions. The cooperation with more advanced institutions will take on the form of regular scientific cooperation. The FWO programme for cooperation between Flanders and Vietnam is part of this. The developing institutions are eligible for university development cooperation. A link should remain between the two forms of cooperation, to ensure that they can strengthen each other.
The new VLIR-UOS country strategy for Vietnam focuses on the country’s regional role as a hub for further cooperation in Southeast Asia.