Making news

Two decades on, universities still stuck in central Hanoi

Hanoi’s authorities began planning to move universities from the capital city’s inner districts to the suburbs about 20 years ago but up to now, few university relocation projects have been carried out and none is completed.

Dao Ngoc Nghiem, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Urban Planning and Development Association, said when a master development plan for the city was approved in 1998, authorities proposed relocating universities out of inner districts to reduce pressure on infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure.

The relocation was also expected to form university zones in suburban areas or satellite urban areas and vice versa.

However, in the last two decades, no university zone had been formed, a major problem hindering the relocation projects, Nghiem said.

In 2011, the Hanoi People’s Committee planned to move 12 universities out of the city centre.

The universities, including Trade Union, Hanoi Law, Foreign Trade, Construction, Hanoi Medical University and Hanoi Open University were expected to move to satellite urban areas like Gia Lam, Soc Son, Son Tay and Hoa Lac.

Vietnam National University-Hanoi in Cau Giay district in 2003 started a project to relocate the university to Hoa Lac area, the suburban district of Thach That.

The project was approved by the government with estimated investment of 7.32 trillion VND, however, only a few housing blocks and a dorm for 2,000 students have been built.

The facilities have been used for a few military training courses yearly since 2015 while the surrounding roads have not been completed.

Nguyen Duc Dang, director of the university’s Development Centre in Hoa Lac said the university faced difficulties in ensuring funding for the project.

Meanwhile, the Water Resource University is reluctant to send students to its branch in Pho Hien University Zone in the northern province of Hung Yen, despite the 50-ha branch being completed with two lecture hall blocks, a canteen, three dorms and a stadium. 

The hesitancy is due to the fact that the zone lacks basic infrastructure, such as finished roads.

The provincial People’s Committee blames the lack of infrastructure on a funding shortage.

Rector of Hanoi Open University Truong Tien Tung said the university had been searching for land and investment to relocate to suburban areas.

Tung said if they relied entirely on tuition fees, the university wouldn’t have enough money to invest in a relocation project.

He said when a university moved to a new area, it needed a proper infrastructure for its staff and students.

Tran Xuan Nhi, former Vice Minister of Education and Training, said that few people wanted to leave the city centre. University managers were not willing to change while students liked crowded areas to easily get a part-time job.

“The policy to move universities out of the city centre areas is right but the policy implementation is slow because of insufficient directions and mechanisms,” Nhi said.

When a university is moved to another place, various issues should be taken into account, for examples, housing for staff and students and transportation to the city centre.

As part of the plan to move universities from the city centre, the Government asked relevant ministries including Education and Training and Construction and Finance to take responsibility.

“Universities must have detailed roadmaps and the Government must ensure proper funding,” he said.

In the case of autonomous universities, the Government should offer incentive loans so they could have enough financial capacity to relocate, Nhi added.

Nghiem from Hanoi Urban Planning and Development Association said when it came to a university project, facilities for learning were not the only issue, but housing for teachers and students was important too.

To relocate universities, the Government should also think about incentives to support the universities, their staff and students, Nghiem said.