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Developing cooperation between the University of Danang (UD) and Aston University (AU), United Kingdom

From 22 to 30 October 2013, the delegation from the University of Danang (UD) led by Assoc. Prof. Tran Van Nam – President of the UD made an official visit to Aston University (AU). This working visit was made according to the implementation plan of the Employability project funded by British Council (BC) and AU with the aim to develop collaborative programs between UD and AU.

The UD’s delegation includes:

-          Assoc.Prof. Tran Van Nam, President of UD, Head of Project Management Team

-          Dr. Duong Mong Ha, Director of Quality Assurance Department, Standing member of Project Management Team

-          Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Manh Toan, Director of Planning and Finance Department, Member of Project Management Team

-          MA. Do Thi Nhu Hoa, Project Administrator

Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hai, who was an expert of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), now is the First Secretary of the Vietnamese Embassy in United Kingdom, and Ms. Hoang Van Anh, Director Assistant of BC Vietnam were kindly to participate in the activities of UD’s delegation in UK.

Introduction of Aston University

Established in 1895 and upgraded into a university in 1966, Aston University has been a world top research-led university regarding teaching quality and direct relevance to real scenarios of industry, business and other sectors.

­       Listed in top 20 UK’s Universities over the past 8 years.

­       Listed in top 300 by Times Higher Education.

­       Has around 12,000 students from over 130 countries participate and invent the concept of “global citizen”.

­       Consists of four schools: Aston Business School, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Languages and Social Sciences, and School of Life and Health Sciences.

­       Ranked in top 12 in the UK regarding all four training fields according to UK’s Research Assessment.

­       Constantly ranked in top 5 in the UK regarding students’ employability; “even Oxbridge can hardly boast that the rate of their bachelor graduates being employed is higher than that of Aston” (Higher Education Magazine, Sunday Times 2012)

The close connection that Aston University has had with employers, public economic sector and other industries ensures that the university’s training programmes are always full of inspiring, challenging and continuously updated. Such connection will equip students with necessary skills for their future jobs.

Aston University concentrates on basic research and highly applied research that is highly potential to influence the world. Aston University’s studies aim to provide practical solutions to burning concerns mankind is facing such as health deterioration, mass communication and sustainable bio-energy. Research is the top mission of Aston University and forms the bedrock for every activity ranging from networking with enterprises to developing curricula.

Researchers at Aston University conduct research projects with enterprises via many programmes from Partners for Knowledge Transfer Programme in which graduates will work for the enterprises for 1-3 year project-based contracts according to the UK’s Innovation Certificate Programme. This programme enables small and medium enterprises to assess to research and consultation from any university and Aston University is the pioneer.

The new strategy of Aston University is “Moving Forwards to 2020”. The university always maintains its capacity to respond to a constantly changing world while upholding its initial objectives.

Developing partnership between the University of Danang and Aston University

Recently, the UK government has appointed AU as a leader of consortium of universities from U.K to work closely with UD to build proposal and implement the project “The VN-UK International University”. In addition, AU and BC have been supporting UD in deploying the Employability project basing on the experiences of AU.

On the first day of the visit, UD’s delegation was honourably invited to attend the AU Senior Staff Meeting at which the AU’s development plan until 2020 ‘Put Yourself in the Picture’ was presented by Prof. Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor of Aston University. During the visit, the delegation had official meetings with leaders of AU, contacted several Heads of relevant units for experiences exchange in research, teaching, quality assurance and other activities. The delegation was also invited to visit some laboratories, typical learning environment at Aston University and Coventry University.

The official meeting between UD’s delegation and AU’s leaders was held on 25 October 2013 at the Vice Chancellor’s office.

The representatives from the Aston University at the meeting included:

Prof. Dame Julia King, Vice Chancellor

Prof. Alison Halstead, Pro Vice Chancellor

Prof. Gina Rippon, Pro Vice Chancellor

Ms Hoang Van Anh, Assistant Director, Higher Education and Skills, British Council Vietnam participated in this important meeting.

At the meeting, the two universities discussed the possibilities of partnership, focusing on the following areas:

 


Prof. Dame Julia King – Vice-Chancellor of AU together with Pro-Vice-Chancellors and delegation from UD and BC

 

Building and developing the project ‘The VN-UK International Standard University’

Preparation for the VN-UK International Standard University (VN-UK University) project started in March, 2010 after the Joint Statement signed by Mr Nguyen Thien Nhan, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam and Lord Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills of UK. The Ministry of Education and Training Vietnam (MOET), British Council Vietnam (BC Vietnam) and the University of Danang have been appointed to conduct many activities as pre-requisite for an establishment of the VN-UK University.

During the visit to the UK of Vietnam’s Secretary General Nguyen Phu Trong in January 2013, a Memorandum of Minutes on the VN-UK University establishment was signed between Vice Minister of Education and Training Vietnam, Tran Quang Quy and the UK’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Antony Stokes. The MoM affirms the following phases in Vietnam-UK cooperation and necessary commitments to found the university in 2013 to celebrate 40 years of Vietnam-UK diplomatic relation.

At the meeting on 28 February 2013, MOET assigned the University of Danang to cooperate with BC Vietnam and Aston University (hereinafter referred to as related parties) to build a proposal for establishing the VN-UK University.

From March to August 2013, related parties have worked closely to prepare the required documents for this project. According to the feasibility study, it takes time and is quite costly to establish a new university with international standards in infrastructure, facilities, teaching staff and researchers. Although both Vietnamese and UK governments committed to support this project, the current criteria of finance and human resources could not be met to build and operate an international standard university as required. The related parties, therefore, agreed to propose an implementation plan for this project into two phases:

Phase 1: The VN-UK Institute for Research and Executive Education will be established by MOET

The VN-UK Institute for Research and Executive Education is a special member of UD and its operational regulations will be issued by President of UD. In this period, the Institute will be located at the UD main campus.

Phase 2: When requirements to establish an international standard university are satisfied, MOET will propose the Government to upgrade the Institute into the VN-UK University.

On 27 September 2013, the Government Office issued an official document to approve, in principle, to establish the VN-UK Institute for Research and Executive Education. Both universities planned, when the official Decision by MOET is made, to organize the Launch for the Institute in Danang at the end of November 2013 on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and UK. The two universities committed to support the development of the Institute with the target of becoming the VN-UK University as soon as possible.

Establishing the UK-ASEAN Research Center

UD and AU will establish the UK-ASEAN Research Center at the University of Danang. This center will conduct research activities, publish research results, exchange information in the fields of scientific technology, economy and society between UK and ASEAN researchers. UD will participate in all activities of this center as well as organize international scientific conferences. In order to facilitate the activities of the center, BC Vietnam pledges to support 100,000 pound per year in the first three years, AU supports 90,000 pound per year in paying salary for managers and researchers taking part in these activities, and UD supports facilities and administration fees of this center (equivalent 10,000 pound per year). Therefore, in the first three years, the center will receive a financial support of 200,000 pound per year for its operation. As planned, the UK-ASEAN Research Center will officially start its activities in the beginning of 2014.

 


UD’s delegation and First Secretary of the Vietnamese Embassy to UK and Prof. Philip Extance


Visiting the aviation laboratory and Mover Machine at Coventry university


Establishing the Executive Leadership Center

With the support by Rolls Royce International and BC Vietnam, both the universities will also establish the ExecutiveLeadership Center to deliver the training programs in executive leadership. AU’s lecturers together with experts – the successful managers in UK – will give lectures for these programs following the program content of AU. Meanwhile, UD is in charge of program administration. At the beginning, UD’s lecturers will participate in the programs as teaching assistants to support participants in group discussions. The first week of the pilot course with modules of Marketing and Finance Management was delivered at Danang Novotel Hotel September 2013. The schedule of this course took place from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m on weekdays. All participants were staying at Danang Novotel Hotel during the course.  The following week of this pilot course will take place in November 2013 at the same venue – Danang Novotel Hotel.

MSc Quality in International Higher Education

AU and UD have agreed to open the program ‘MSc Quality in International Higher Education’ at the University of Danang. This program meets with the objectives of capacity development in the field of educational management and quality assurance to realize the strategy of radical and comprehensive renovation of Vietnamese education system. Both the universities exert themselves to find out funding support to decrease expenditure for participants. UD’s Quality Assurance Department will announce information of this program in details.

Other activities

During the time in Aston, UD’s delegation had several meetings with Heads of relevant units to discuss the common interesting issues as follows:

-  Meet with Dr. Philip Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Partnership, to exchange experiences in relationship improvement, knowledge and technology transfer between universities and enterprises;

- Meet with Ms. Nicola Turner, Director of Employability, to talk about procedures and activities to improve job opportunities for graduates, career advice and placements. It is noted that employability is one of AU’s strong points in many years;

- Meet with Dr Andrew Harris, Executive Director of Campaigns, and Ms Carol Fryer, Alumni  and Relations Officer to exchange experiences in the development of alumni relations for the fund-raising campaigns on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Aston University (1966-2016) which will be held in 2016;

- Meet with Mr Alan Charters, Executive Director of Capital Development Estates Plan, to learn the experiences in the infrastructure development of AU in recent time. At the meeting, the delegation also studied the 2020 Master Plan of AU and the design principles of a modern university then visited some typical buildings such as European Bio-energy Research Institute, Chemical– Pharmaceutical and Molecular Laboratory, University Library. Especially, the delegation was invited to visit the ‘Sustainable Building’ for scientific research and teaching in Engineering and Computing at Coventry University (with the cost of building and equipping about £65 million).

The delegation also had a chance to visit the City Library of Birmingham which is located in the city center.

On the occasion of this working visit, the members of UD’s delegation and Prof. Alison Halstead, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of AU had an official meeting with H.E.Vu Quang Minh, Vietnamese Ambassador to UK. The representatives of both universities reported to H.E Vu Quang Minh on the cooperative activities in the implementation process of the project ‘VN-UK International Standard University’, the UK-ASEAN Research Center plan as well as the development plan of partnership between two universities. H.E Vu Quang Minh gave a cheerful reception to the effective cooperation between UD and AU in the previous time and expressed his support to the project ‘VN-UK International Standard University’ and other cooperative activities in research and training of two universities.

 


A discussion about enterprise relations


H.E Vu Quang Minh welcomed UD’s  delegation


On October 30th 2013, UD’s delegation returned to Danang and ended the successful trip to UK.

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