Proposal to scrap ranks in university degrees receives mixed response

By Manh Tung   October 11, 2019 | 07:00 pm PT
Proposal to scrap ranks in university degrees receives mixed response
Students check out recruitment leaflets at a vocational fair in Hanoi, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Duong Tam.
Educators agree that students’ academic performance should not be indicated in their college degree certificates, but fear this could pose difficulties for recruiters.

The Ministry of Education and Training has recommended that degree certificates should no longer show students' ranks.

Universities now have five ranks: excellent, very good, good, average, and acceptable.

Truong Nguyen Thanh, vice principal of Ho Chi Minh City's private Van Lang University, said not indicating the level of distinction is now a global trend.

Most schools in the U.S. do not include them in the degree certificate but attach the school records along with it.

A few years after graduation, not many students would worry about the rank they had got, only the value they bring to their current employer, he said.

"Academic ranks can only reflect one aspect of the student: the ability to grasp knowledge. What businesses really need are the skills to solve problems and application of their knowledge in different contexts."

Ho Thanh Phong, principal of Hong Bang International University, said he endorsed the new proposal.

But it also worried him since it could make things difficult for recruiters by not indicating the distinction level in the college degree, which is a useful filter, he said.

However, since universities issue degrees along with students’ score sheets, recruiters could always use them, he added.

Managers of public universities were less keen on the change. Several said it is important to show students’ ranks on the degree certificate.

Le Van Ut, head of the department for management of science and technology development at Ton Duc Thang University in HCMC, said ranking students may not be necessary in countries with long experience in university education, but it is important in a place like Vietnam.

Even European schools continue to rank their students, he said. "Ranks provide the first impression to recruiters."

He said it's easier now for students to get a college degree than in the past. What they care more is a degree that show their quality and make them stand out in the labor market, he explained.

From a recruiter's perspectives, Le Duc Cuong, head of recruitment at Telecom Infrastructure North Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of FPT Telecom Joint Stock Company, in Hanoi, said recruiters these days mostly evaluate applicants based on how they perform in the workplace, rather than their degrees.

Most companies do not pay much attention to candidates' academic performance or which school they graduated from since their interview and test would tell them more than any degree certificate, he said.

But Cuong admitted that the rank on the degree certificate helps them reduce the time they spend on "filtering" candidates at the time of reviewing applications.

Besides, recruiters place applicants in different categories based on this, and for certain positions they prefer those with "good" or better degrees, he admitted further.

So ranks are necessary though they alone do not indicate everything about an applicant, he said.

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