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A special university leader who took the role of a professional in curriculum development and renewal

 

Mr. Do Anh Tai (centre) received a Certificate for the course on “Undergraduate Curriculum Development and Renewal” from The Queensland University of Technology’s expert
Mr. Do Anh Tai (centre) received a Certificate for the course on “Undergraduate Curriculum Development and Renewal” from The Queensland University of Technology’s expert

Education &Times Newspaper – Among participants of the Australia Awards Short Course on “Undergraduate Curriculum Development and Renewal” facilitated by The Queensland University of Technology (QUT), under Aus4Skills efforts, there was a special participant with two roles: a university leader, and a professional who is accumulating knowledge on curriculum development and renewal. The participant is Associate Professor, Dr Do Anh Tai, Vice Rector of University of Economics and Business Administration (Thai Nguyen University).

“Curriculum Development and Renewal requires the agreement and consensus from university’s members. Upon the course completion, I proposed plans comprising rapid curriculum renewal activities, but it was impossible to execute. After that, I slightly reduced the implementation pace. Therefore, it is equally important to be persevering in leadership as well as sometimes to be flexible in practice.” said Associate Professor, Doctor Do Anh Tai.

As a university leader, Mr. Do Anh Tai decided to accumulate expertise on undergraduate curriculum development and renewal through the course. Apart from specialized knowledge, the course has provided him substantial lessons on management and leadership, making him more confident in making changes and encouraging his colleagues to achieve success!

In an interview with Education & Times Newspaper, he commented: “The course provided us valuable and substantial knowledge for curriculum renewal. The experts explained the whole process with detailed steps, such as: how to develop outcome standards, how to design a range of knowledge which is suitable with the outcome standards, program framework, renewal methodologies, pedagogical methods, examination and evaluation methods, etc. This approach helps us to fully understand about what it takes and how to start curriculum development and renewal.

An advanced feature of the course is that after theoretical sessions, we received support and mentoring from experts for applying knowledge in practice. After the course, I have implemented a project on undergraduate curriculum renewal at University of Economics and Business Administration. In the last 6 months, I have finalized the curriculum. Course outlines will be modified accordingly over the next 6 months, then they will be applied immediately. After 2 years of implementation, we will review and identify limitations for further revisions.”

* Could you please share some lessons learnt from conducting your project on undergraduate curriculum renewal?

- In my opinion, at first, a top-down approach should be employed to implement reforms; vision and determination for renewal should be started from the highest leadership level to lower management units and individuals. A common attitude and expectation towards curriculum renewal will ensure success.

Earlier, curriculum development and renewal was conducted every 2 years, without considering labour market demand. However, from now on, we aim to change almost all content of the existing curriculum and develop a new curriculum for students’ benefit. Given the scarcity of financial resources, if universities can provide lecturers with encouragement and help them realize that renewal is an indispensable requirement for each lecturer, they will actively participate in the reform process.

This course also gave me a totally new perspective on management tasks. In my study tour to Australia, through visits to the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and other universities, I witnessed their management style, and obtained important lessons, such as: curriculum renewal is not feasible without changes in the management system. Based on this experience, in my final report on the course, I emphasized the necessity of changes in regulations, in management units, then in academic staff, lecturers, and finally in curriculum. 

Mr. Do Anh Tai presented the final report at the course
Mr. Do Anh Tai presented the final report at the course 

* Undergraduate curriculum renewal for satisfying the job market demands has a close relation with business communities, especially in economic and business administration sectors. What is the role of companies in your new curriculum? 

- It is fair to say that companies have paid increasing attention to universities and educational activities. However, most employers tend to recruit the highest quality graduates, rather than contribute substantially to our curriculum.

Currently, the role of enterprises can be seen clearly in internships and minor support for curriculum modifications. Our university is going to conclude cooperation agreements with tourism associations, associations of small and medium enterprises, and some foreign companies. The university frequently organizes job fairs which attract hundreds of businesses to join and recruit final year students. In addition, we have striven to involve companies in updating training programs, in developing new curriculum, and in practical lectures, sessions, etc.

* One objective of the course is creating a network of pioneers who spread knowledge to and inspire innovation in their colleagues. As a university leader, do you think that you have more advantages than other participants in completing this mission?

- In previous discussions with the Australian experts, I also said that in respect of university reforms, I am in a more favourable position compared with my peers who are middle managers or lecturers. With broader competencies and responsibilities, I can discuss with, support, and instruct directly those who find difficulties in the reform process.

Source: Translation of an article on Education and Times Newspaper