The ‘Advanced Programmes’ in Vietnam: Internationalising the Curriculum or Importing the ‘Best Curriculum’ of the West?
Internationalisation of the curriculum is gaining increased popularity among universities, especially in developed countries, though there is much debate about its rationales, nature and process. Internationalisation of the curriculum is understood and implemented differently across different regions of the world. In Vietnam, the introduction of ‘Chương trình tiên tiến’ [the advanced programme], which uses English as a medium of instruction and aims to enhance the quality of teaching and learning at selected universities in accordance with the ‘standards’ established by foreign partner universities, is often seen as the country’s most advanced and successful effort in the internationalisation of the curriculum. This chapter analyses the drivers, implementation process, impacts and challenges of the various advanced programmes. Drawing on the conceptual lenses of curriculum internationalisation and curriculum borrowing, the chapter points out the contradiction between the rhetoric and practice in implementing advanced programmes. In policy documents, the introduction of advanced programmes is often understood as a signature initiative in internationalising the Vietnamese higher education (HE) curriculum. However, in practice, it reflects features of curriculum transposition rather than curriculum internationalisation. After 10 years of implementation, the project has had positive impacts in terms of providing students with exposure to advanced disciplinary knowledge and learning environment and enhancing students’ generic skills and English proficiency, boosting graduates’ competitiveness in the local and regional labour market. However, its objective of producing a high quality workforce for Vietnam is still far from being achieved, partly because advanced programmes are implemented only within certain disciplines in selected universities. Only a small proportion of students can have to the advanced programmes. Impacts are fragmented and on a small scale rather than the advanced programmes reshaping the entire enterprise of selected universities. The advanced programmes do not tend to entail the systematic development of graduate attributes across the whole of a university. Moreover, the advanced programmes draw on entirely imported models in relation to programme structure, design, management and curriculum ideologies and content. Given the differences in histories, national needs, cultures, educational ideologies and especially infrastructures between Vietnamese Universities and their foreign partner universities, this neo-colonial approach is facing a number of challenges, especially in terms of sustainability, feasibility and practicality.
KeywordsInternationalisation of the curriculum Advanced programme Curriculum borrowing Internationalisation of education Internationalisation of Vietnamese higher education
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