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September 26, 2018

Becoming Personnel Who Link Vietnam and Japan: Vietnam-Japan University Sends Off First 56 Graduates

photoNguyen Manh Tung gives a speech as a representative of the graduates. "The friends I made at Vietnam-Japan University are a great asset," he says. He decided to study at Vietnam-Japan University because he was attracted by the considerateness of Japanese people and the value they place on discipline.

"I was able to not only gain knowledge, but also learn about Japan's culture and way of doing business, and I developed a lot. I want to acquire specialized skills while working at a Japanese company and play a central role in the firm."

Nguyen Manh Tung, who acquired a master's degree in the infrastructure engineering program at Vietnam-Japan University, made these comments about his two years studying there. The school, which is in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, held its first degree-awarding ceremony in July. Mr. Tung, the valedictorian, received a job offer from a construction company in Tokyo and plans to begin work there in December. He says he hopes to act as an intermediary between Japan and Vietnam and support students at Vietnam-Japan University while helping Japanese people to learn about Vietnam's positive qualities.

Vietnam-Japan University was established in September 2016 with the cooperation of the governments of Japan and Vietnam. As a leading research institute and human resource training center in Vietnam, Vietnam-Japan University aims to turn out excellent human resources who connect Japan and Vietnam. Among the 56 first-class students who graduated, about 10 have job offers from Japanese companies, and nine have scholarships from the Japanese government and others and plan to continue their educations at Japanese universities.

Putting to use its expertise and experience in providing support in the field of higher education, in partnership with top-class Japanese universities, JICA is supporting students' studies by sending advising teachers and experts with experience in university management to Vietnam-Japan University.

Distinguished by thinking ability that is useful in society and practical learning

Taking into consideration the needs of Vietnam, the university has six master's programs — in Area Studies, Public Policy, Business Administration, Environmental Engineering, Nanotechnology and Infrastructure Engineering — and each is overseen by a coordinating university in Japan that creates its educational program and supports its educational and research activities. About half of the instructors are Japanese, classes are conducted in English, and the Japanese language is a required subject.

photoVietnam-Japan University's master's programs and Japanese coordinating universities

photoJICA Expert Jun Nakajima (second from right) with students in the Vietnam-Japan University environmental engineering master's program

Learning at Vietnam-Japan University is characterized by the use of education policies different from traditional Vietnamese education. Expert Jun Nakajima (previously a professor of Department of Environmental Systems Engineering in Faculty of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University), who took a teaching position in the environmental engineering program, says, "In Vietnam, generally unidirectional lectures in the classroom are the rule, but at Vietnam-Japan University, most of the learning is practical and intended for students to acquire the capacity to think in a way that is useful in society." The university emphasizes debate and presentations in classes, as well as field learning, and has adopted problem-solving style learning that applies the knowledge and skills students acquire to solving Vietnam's social issues.

"They respect teamwork and have a strong ethic of helping one another and growing together," Mr. Nakajima says of Vietnamese students. He says he tells them about Japan's mistakes in its history of development so far and stresses to them that he wants them to make use of those lessons. "Some students were very slow in completing their master's theses, and kept me in suspense until the end," he says. Mr. Nakajima plans to raise the issue of training full-time Vietnamese instructors.

The students of Vietnam-Japan University have good things to say about Japan's meticulous style of instruction.

"My advising professor gave me enthusiastic guidance for many hours when I was writing my master's thesis," says Nguyen Anh Hao of the business administration program, who will go on to a doctorate program at Yokohama National University. He plans to dedicate himself to his research in Japan, and dreams of becoming an instructor or researcher.

Luong Huu Duc, who studied nanotechnology, says his thesis was published in a specialized magazine thanks to the tireless guidance of his instructor day and night. It is something he will never forget. He will go on to a doctoral program at Osaka University.

The warm support in advancing to another educational program or finding a job also is attractive

In Vietnam, people generally search for a job after graduating, but there are advisers stationed at Vietnam-Japan University's Academics, R&D Promotion Department for both advancing to another educational program and looking for a job. "First we surveyed all students, asking their plans, and then came up with our measures," says expert Kazuhira Tanaka (Assistant director, Academic Planning office Hosei University), who provided support for career guidance.

photoVietnam-Japan University students participate in a career seminar.

Based on this survey, he partnered with Japanese companies in a wide variety of industries including food and beverage, logistics and manufacturing, and held career seminars 10 times in a year. While teaching students about the needs of the companies, such as "the ability to speak Japanese" and "being able to work long term," he created opportunities for them to learn about Japanese work culture and interviews and worked to match students with companies.

All the students say, "My internship in Japan was beneficial." In a three-month program in the second year, not only can students study at the coordinating university of the program they belong to, but they can also tour Japanese companies, and this has led to many students deciding on careers. Nguyen Sy Cuong of the infrastructure engineering program participated in an internship at the University of Tokyo and was impressed by the level of research in Japan. After returning to Vietnam, he decided he wanted to work in Japan, studied Japanese extra hard and succeeded in winning a job offer from a consulting company in Kyushu.

Vietnam has maintained a high rate of economic growth, between 6 and 7 percent, for the past several years. Japanese companies are expanding into Vietnam one after another because of the great promise of its market and the quality of its workers. As demand grows among Japanese companies for superior Japanese human resources who have undergone Japanese-style education, JICA will continue providing support for Vietnam-Japan University, including for the establishment of bachelor's degree programs.

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