The United States Agency for International Development granted $14.2 million to the partnership between IU and the three biggest university systems in Vietnam in hopes of modernizing their higher education system.
The USAID and the Vietnamese government believe it’s critical to improve and modernize the education system in Vietnam, Dr. Anh Tran, IU professor and principal investigator in the project, said.
"For Vietnam, modernizing higher education will upskill its labor force, allowing Vietnam to enter more high-tech industries and achieve higher economic growth in the future,” Tran said in a press release.
Tran said every semester, faculty members and administrators from Vietnam will come to IU so they can take or audit courses, can go to the library and participate in all the aspects IU has to offer. The plan is to have professors from IU go overseas as well.
This project is a part of a large initiative the U.S. Department of State and USAID started to help relieve the country after the COVID-19 pandemic. Vice President Kamala Harris announced the government-funded projects during her recent visit to Vietnam, according to USAID.
The dimensions of the project are governance, teaching and research. Tran said governance is the most important because it provides the motivation for universities to become more sustainable and independent with regards to their performances.
“Our project aims to improve the three main dimensions of these Vietnamese universities,” Tran said in the release.
Governance will allow the growth of each university, school, department and faculty member through the detailed planning of how each activity is meant to run, Tran said.
“Once measurement is established, it can be used for performance assessment and can provide incentive for each person to do better,” Tran said.
Arjan Koeslag said he will act as an international consultant and the foreseen chief of the party for the initiative. He said as the chief of the party he will direct the various activities needed to be put in place to attain desired results.
Koeslag said he will act as a liaison officer between IU and the other American stakeholders along with Vietnamese officials. He said his past experience in projects with other Vietnamese university systems will help him to understand the way the culture and policies work in the country.
Koeslag said he is an expert in making education and research more relevant to society.
The professors and administrators at IU will start their jobs with the project virtually for the time being due to the pandemic, Koeslag said.
Terrance Mason, IU professor and senior academic advisor on the project, said the plan is to have IU professors go to Vietnam and conduct workshops that improve the quality of the universities' programs.
“I know people on campus, so if we need experts in a particular area or discipline, I will be able to contact them and enlist their help as we assist the universities in improving their programs,” Mason said.
Mason said the project expects to draw help from faculty in the College of Arts & Science, the Kelley School of Business, the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the School of Education.
Mason said this program gives professors from Vietnam access to resources and courses that can help them improve their teaching back in Vietnam.
“IU has been involved in many U.S. projects over time since it recognizes the university goal of providing outreach on a global scale, Mason said.”