The ones that got away: Da Nang struggles to lure back sponsored students

By VnExpress   October 4, 2016 | 02:00 am GMT+7
The ones that got away: Da Nang struggles to lure back sponsored students
The central coastal city has so far brought lawsuits against 15 people who went for overseas studying on state-funded scholarship but refused to return home upon graduation. Photo by VGP
The city has sued 15 scholarship recipients who refused to come home.

They went, they saw, they never returned.

Since 2014, the central city of Da Nang has run a scholarship program, trying to create a high quality talent pool for government offices. More than 600 students have been funded to study overseas.

But new data showed that nearly 10 percent of the awardees have failed to honor their contractual obligations. Some dropped out of the program and never finished their studies, while others flat-out refused to come home and work for the city after graduation.

According to a recent survey conducted by Da Nang’s government, those who have returned are not very happy.

Nearly two-thirds of scholarship recipients say they are not content with the jobs that the city has assigned them. Some say their jobs do not require the knowledge that they have recently acquired overseas.

Others complain about a lack of organizational support, saying senior officials are not open to new initiatives or constructive proposals.

According to the survey, 12.5 percent of the respondents feel discouraged by their career prospects at government institutions and agencies. Many are now seeking employment opportunities in the private sector with higher salaries and better working environments.

Nguyen Van Chien, director of Da Nang Center for Promotion of Human Resources Development, said doctoral and master's degree holders who have been funded by the program must do work assigned by the city for at least seven years.

He added that those choosing to stay overseas after their graduation are obliged to repay twice the scholarship value.

Over the past three years, Da Nang has filed lawsuits against 15 grantees for breaking contracts with the government, demanding tens of billions of dong in compensation.

Huynh Van Long is one of them.

When the city offered him a grant of VND2.7 billion ($120,000) for a master’s program at Nottingham University in the U.K, Long promised to return home upon his graduation.

As soon as he finished the course, the school offered him a full scholarship for a three-year PhD program.

Although he tried to convince Da Nang authorities to extend his stay overseas for three more years, the city’s officials refused, insisting that he must fulfill his commitments.

The city is now suing him for VND5.4 billion.

“My son chose to stay longer in the U.K. for studying not working,” Long’s father argued.

The Center for Promotion of Human Resources Development said it has no choice but to take strong legal action.

“The funds come from taxpayers’ money. We just can’t waste their hard-earned money,” said Chien, the director.

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