Date of Award

Winter 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Maurice R. Berube

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Dana Heller


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is experiencing unprecedented peace and prosperity. Although Vietnam's war-damaged economy continued to decline for ten years after hostilities ended in 1975, everything changed in 1986 when doi moi, a moderate economic reform program, was introduced. Doi moi put enormous stress on higher education, whose function in the past had been to train workers for the state sector. Suddenly, higher education had to respond to the changing needs of Vietnamese society.

A 1992 educational sector study found that higher education was irrelevant to the needs of the transitional Vietnamese society. Universities were too small and too diffuse to be effective. A plan was drafted to consolidate single-focus institutions into larger multidisciplinary universities, to revise curricula and to improve the quality of teaching faculty. In Thanh Hoa Province, Thanh Hoa Teacher Training College, Thanh Hoa Medical College and Thanh Hoa Agricultural and Technical College formed Hong Duc University (HDU) which opened in 1997.

This study examines Hong Duc University and discusses the university's impact on Thanh Hoa Province. This case study is based on information collected from interviews, informal conversations, observations, document analysis and archival record analysis made during a three-week field visit in the summer of 2001.

The findings show that Hong Duc University has a positive effect on the region. Localized academic programs and research opportunities assist with regional development. Furthermore, Hong Duc University, although in transition itself, is relevant to the changing needs of the transitional society. Finally, the data revealed that HDU has stimulated economic growth in the city of Thanh Hoa.

The study concludes with several recommendations. First, the university funding base must be diversified. Once the university has sufficient educational resources, access to technology must be improved and the university infrastructure must be upgraded. Second, a plan for professional development, recruitment and retention of adequately trained faculty must be established. Next, the curriculum must be upgraded to reflect workplace realities. Access to the university must be assured for the region's ethnic minorities and the very poor. Finally, the continued conduct of scientific research is recommended to increase HDU's regional influence.


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