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Getting a PhD abroad doesn't ensure a job

People who earn a PhD - doctorate of philosophy - abroad on State money, often return home to find their employment chances are relatively dim.

A PhD graduate in "sound physics" at a Belgian university said he had always been keen to work as a lecturer at a Hanoi-based college.

After graduation, he returned home with high hopes, but found that local colleges showed little interest since his research field appeared to be too new for them to find a suitable fulltime post.

"I feel ashamed of myself," he said, explaining that he studied abroad using public tax money, but was unable to use his knowledge to serve the public.

The sound physics PhD counts himself lucky he still has a teaching job at a reputable engineering college, even though the job does not require his academic specialty.

One of his fellow students ended up opening a store selling musical instruments in a vain attempt to apply the technical knowledge of sound and waveforms learned.

Not getting a job upon graduation is seen as potentially deadly for an academic career.

The Vietnamese Government offers scholarships every year to young experts and lecturers so that they can get further training in more developed countries.

Research activities at Vietnamese colleges are growing and in need of intellectuals. The Government has increased the number of senior lecturers through further education and training overseas.

The number of experts sent aboard to obtain their doctorates rose nine per cent in 2013.

Statistics showed that for the past 10 years, the Ministry of Education has funded more than 7,000 students overseas with a total of 2.5 trillion dong (roughly $120 million). More than half selected for PhD programmes.

Bui Van Ga, Deputy Minister of Education, said PhD and master's degree graduates who had benefited from State-sponsored scholarships must do work assignments from their supervisory institutions three times longer than the time they studied abroad.

He added that those staying overseas after their graduation were obliged to refund all the training costs.


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