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Vietnam's Public University Lecturers Struggle to Make Ends Meet With Low Salaries

In Vietnam, most professors at public universities are not being paid enough to be fully dedicated to their career.

According to a recent survey on the income level of lecturers in Saigon, 70 out of 984 lecturers at the HCMC University of Social Sciences and Humanities are paid less than VND4 million (US$200) a month. The survey numbers were confirmed by the university's President Vo Van Sen at an event celebrating the school’s 60th anniversary in September, reports VietnamNet.

This official salary that the state pays is not enough to make ends meet; hence, lecturers are forced to earn extra income from outside teaching jobs and scientific research projects. Sen conceded that the wages are not sufficient to meet basic needs, so if lecturers fulfill their number of lecturing hours, scientific research and published scientific articles, they have every right to find outside work. He admitted: “We cannot ask our lecturers to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the school.”

In a 2014 survey, 95% of lecturers nationwide said that they had taken part in outside scientific research projects funded by the state, schools or private businesses. Tuoi Tre reports that teachers also routinely offer private tutoring at their homes and will often accept cash payments from parents to provide extra attention to specific children.

Needing second jobs for supplemental income forces lecturers to live uncomfortably and make sacrifices. Lecturers often have to give up hobbies and family time, according to Tu Trung Kien, a lecturer from Thai Nguyen University, in an interview with VietnamNet in 2015.

Kien also shared at the time that, as an associate professor, his income is only 50% that of his students once they graduate and take an entry-level job in the private sector. Additionally, as salaries remain stagnant, qualified teachers may look outside Vietnam for work. Kien claims: “The low pay explains why many good scientists have left the country.”

Renowned scientist and professor Nguyen Lan Dung also lamented the dire financial situation of lecturers in Vietnam. Despite his prestigious position as one of the country's top experts in microbiology, he only makes around VND7 million per month from many jobs at different institutions. One institute, for example, only pays researchers with a doctorate VND3.5 million a month.

[Photo via VietnamNet]

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