Office of Development Effectiveness May 2015

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4.2 Program results and achievements

Pillar one – Human resource development

Vietnam Government policy aims, investment levels and strategies

The scale of the education and training required in Vietnam to meet its growth targets1 is substantial. The Socio Economic Development Plan 2011–15 (SEDP) identifies human resource development (HRD) as one of three priority ‘breakthrough’ areas to achieve Vietnam’s development goals.

The Vietnam Manpower Development Master Plan51 focuses on increased university and college education and training, including targets for the number of trained people by education and training levels, sector and geographic region. The plan aims to strengthen HRD quality systems and policies; improve the capacity and efficiency of management; reform training curricula; and increase teacher wages.52 The plan recognises the need for ODA grants and loans and private investments to finance the program.

Central ministries are expected to produce their own human resource plans in line with the national plan and specific sectoral needs. The Vietnam Government Project 911, with an expected investment of US$700 million, aims to award 20 000 PhD scholarships across the country between 2010 and 2020. It also aims to have women as 40 per cent and 20 per cent of Master and PhD holders, up from the 2013 level of 30 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

The Vietnam Government has become more open to the development of linkages with international universities. Australia was the first country to be given a license to operate a foreign university in Vietnam; RMIT University has campuses in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and is providing, through a privately funded in-country scholarships program, a replicable Australian education experience in Vietnam at what is estimated by RMIT to be at a cost significantly less than the Australian based scholarships. There are now 438 joint training programs in Vietnam (including 164 Masters, 12 PhD). However, Australia (with 20 institution linkages) has fewer linkages than United States, France or the United Kingdom.

There is a renewed emphasis on developing Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). The government’s Vocational Training Development Strategy 2011–20 has ambitious goals including access to vocational training across Vietnam. Whilst Australia’s model of TVET (including its demand-driven, competency-based and industry linkages approach) is well regarded by the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs as a prospective model for Vietnam53 it is the German model which is being more actively pursued by the Vietnam Government.

Australian assistance and the donor landscape

The strategic objective for HRD within the country strategy is broad: ‘improving the quality of Vietnam’s human resources’. Within this, there is a commitment to a scholarship program – the Australia Awards Scholarships (AAS)1. Scholarships are focused on the three core strategy areas and target enhanced leadership, knowledge and technical skills, and gender equality. The strategy also commits to building closer partnerships between Vietnamese and Australian public and private institutions. Australia has provided scholarships to Vietnam since 1975 and, in 2013, is one of the largest external scholarship providers in Vietnam, particularly for postgraduate study. Australia is a popular destination for self-funded students.2

DFAT delivers its support to HRD in Vietnam through a range of modalities and channels all of which lie outside Vietnam Government systems. The country program team began drafting a delivery strategy for HRD in 2013 to reflect a strategic frame to Australian support, seeking synergy between investments and focusing Australian priorities for programming and policy engagement. This is designed to give meaning to the country strategy intent of providing targeted support to assist the Vietnam Government implement reforms, thereby helping the Government achieve its HRD goals.


The AAS is broadly aligned with the HRD objective of the Vietnam Government for postgraduate training. However, it has its own criteria for awarding scholarships and its objectives are linked with country program priorities. 30 per cent of AAS are reserved for government agencies.3

In 2010, AAS introduced ‘special conditions’ for the selection of disadvantaged applicants, including disabled, ethnic minority and rural disadvantaged candidates. It established targets for women’s inclusion in the program (a minimum of 50% of awards made) which have been exceeded (Table 7). An Equity of Access fund for targeted groups was introduced in 2013. The fields of study where scholarships were awarded from 2008–13 are shown in Figure 6.

Table 7 Scholarship Level of Study, 2008-2011 (Intake Years)1

Level of study








Graduate diploma




Master’s degree












Figure 6 Scholarship field of study, 2008-20132

the graph shows the field of study for vietnamese scholarshop winners between 2008 and 2013, disaggregated by gender. from most popular to least popular, the fields of study are: business and commerce; agriculture; law and human rights; education; governance; social science; health and medicine; economics; environmental studies; communication; development studies; management; science and engineering; and other. all fields have a majority of women studying them, except for science and engineering which has some women but mostly men. no men are undertaking development studies.

Source: Australian Scholarships data

A robust M&E system to measure the achievements and results of the AAS is in place. An Australian Scholarship Alumni in Vietnam association has been established54, and an alumni database has been developed with 3500 alumni from 1977 onwards. An analysis of the alumni group found about 24 per cent to be in senior positions. However, while scholarships are seen as a positive developmental experience for young staff in government agencies, staff close to leadership positions fear losing promotion opportunities if they go abroad for study. In a tracer survey of recently returned alumni, most alumni claimed to have linkages with their former Australian institutions or Australian partners. The survey provided examples of how alumni have used their linkages with Australia to help to improve their organisation’s performance.

Institutional links

Through the Global Partnerships for Development (GPD) initiative seven capacity-building projects involving funded links between Vietnamese and Australian public sector organisations were started in 2011 and a further five added in 2012. Relatively small amounts of funding as provided through the GPD and its predecessor scheme can assist in establishing institutional linkages; activity between organisations nurtures the association and can build momentum leading to a longer term relationship.

External international research project partnerships continue to be brokered and supported by ACIAR’s work in Vietnam.


The Australian Volunteers for International Development Program (AVID), while a global program and not funded by the Vietnam country program, is also considered to be part of the Australian engagement in the HRD sector. In 2013 around 64 volunteers commenced their programs , with 21 AVID and 26 Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD)1 managed by Austraining2 and 17 volunteers managed by Australia Volunteers International. There were a total of 134 AVID volunteers active in Vietnam in 2012–13. Roles include skills and knowledge transfer.

The main current volunteer assignments55 do not entirely match the country program priorities: governance – 35%, climate change – 21%, health – 16%, other (e.g. economic integration, agricultural research) – 24%. A recent ODE evaluation of the Australian volunteer program recommended stronger links be made between the bilateral program and the volunteer placements and for Posts to become more active in determining numbers of volunteers allocated to their country and in their placements.

Overall assessment of results

Related PAF 2015 strategy objective indicators/ targets

1380 scholarships and 300 fellowships delivered

Increased number and strength of institutional links between public sector institutions

Increased contribution of scholarship alumni and institutional links to meeting strategy objectives

The scholarship program (the major spending area under the HRD pillar) has been effectively run, is valued and has strengthened the wider relationship between Australia and Vietnam. The AAS has continued to look for ways to strengthen its impact within the organisations from which the awardees are drawn. In 2012 there was a shortfall of applications and successful candidates in relation to the target of providing 40% of AAS awards to government agency candidates. The country program is on track to meet its 2015 target of 1380 long-term postgraduate scholarships awarded (with 748 awards made in 2010-13). Around 60% of scholarships have been to women, exceeding the target. Two people with disabilities received awards in 2012-13.

In addition to the postgraduate training awards, over 300 short-term fellowship awards (training and work attachments in Australia) have been awarded in 2010-13 and will exceed the 2015 target. 15-20 Australian Leadership Award Scholarships (ALAS) have been awarded each year.

The results achieved to 2013, considered against the country strategy indicators/ targets (see Box above), suggest that the Pillar objective of assisting in an improvement of the quality of Vietnam’s human resources will be achieved.

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