- Status of Head of Department in Vietnamese universities
In general personnel management of universities and heads of department in particular are appointed by the faculty. Most of them are educators and have high qualifications, a doctoral degree, experience in training, scientific research and technological transfer; have a basic political stablility; have good moral qualities; organize and implement seriously the Party’s guidelines and State’s policies in general and educational process and scientific research in universities in particular [6, p. 4]. Over the years, heads of department have advised possitively and effectively to the department and schools on development of higher education in line with socio-economic conditions of the country. In recent years, due to flexibility of programs and international cooperations to allocate the funding of universities and the support of the state, there are many heads of department, who were sent to visit, exchange, and learn experience of educational management, scientific research in developed countries.
There were carried a number of interviews and discussions about the head of Staff Department on such issues as: teaching capacity, scientific research capacity, management capacity and leadership, social activities to supply educational services and technology to community, capacity of international cooperation in the higher education. In these activities several managers of faculties and schools at Vinh University, Can Tho University, Thai Nguyen University, Hanoi National University of Education, Tay Nguyen University, Sai Gon University, VNU University of Education were involved. As a result, it was found that:
− there are a lot of heads of department working via experiment who are slow in innovation; and are affected by focused administrative mechanism;
− there are a lot of heads of department who have the same pshychology of an aversion to change while new mechanisms require changes and a motivation for it;
− there is a number of head of department staff who have a conservative mentality and exclusive thinking while new mechanisms require to accept both old and new things, competitions in cooperation to get a better education quality;
− there are a few heads of department who have an open mind to new things, dare to embark and adventure, dare to think and dare to work;
− there is a big part of head of department staff who fear inspection and control while new mechanism that need to call to confirm, advertise, promote educational prestige, brand and quality of faculty and school;
− there are a few heads of department who are able to negotiate, sign, collaborate with universities of other countries in the region and in the world about education, academic exchanges, scientific research, retraining, improvement of capacity for lecturer staff;
− there are a lot of heads of deparment who have a limitation in using information technology for management, and using an influent foreign language in profession, management, and international integration in order to meet requirements of educational innovation;
− there are a few heads of department who are able to negotiate, sign, collaborate with other universities in the region and in the world about training, academic exchange, scientific research, retraining of capacity improvement for the faculty;
− there are a lot of heads of department who have limitations in application of infromation technology on management and use of foreign language proficiency in professional management, international cooperation, and they still do not meet the requirements of higher education innovation.
Following to requirements above and the state of the head of deparment status at the moment, we propose solutions to foster and improve the leadership capacity for head of department which will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
- Solution for fostering and improving leadership capacity for heads of department in Vietnamese universities.
Objectives of fostering and improving leadership capacity for heads of department are equiping, updating, improving knowledge, skills, methods to perform the tasks of head of department in new context [2, p. 11]. Quality, leadership capacity, educational management, scientific research, technical transfer and international cooperation of the department should be improved as well.
Fostering must be conducted with more flexible measures such as administration, motivation, and encouragement. It must be managed and implemented in a scientific way to ensure tightly from the stage of fostering needs analysis, buidling fostering contents, planning for fostering to the stage of result evaluation. In our opinion fostering of head of department should follow strict procedures in the figure 1:
Figure 1. Training process for the head of department
2.1. Identifying training needs of head of department.
To determine training demands of heads of department, universities have to analyze who the heads of departments are. What is their role in the higher education innovation? What is their level? What is their leadership capacity and department management? What are their weaknesses and strengths? What do they need to train? What are the forms of training? Then we can identify training demands of heads of department so that we can develop a suitable training program.
2.2. Developing training content.
First, universities need to implement training contents well, foster heads of department following the regulations in the Decree No.18/2010/NĐ-CP dated 5th March, 2010 on training and refreshing training of civil servants; Decision No. 382/BGD-ĐT dated 20th Janaury, 2012 of Minister of Education and Training on the issuance of program about fostering educational managers, fostering department and school managers [10, p.17]. Based on the requirements of a head of department in higher educational innovative context we should focus on fostering leadership capacity of heads of department as following:
- The head of department in the context of basic and comprehensive innovation in higher education and international integration. These include the following issues: the role of a head of department in university in the higher educational innovation; labor characteristics of a head of department; personality traits, capacity of a head of department before requirements of higher educational innovation; challenges for a head of department in the present context [1, p. 28].
- Developing skills of department strategic planning of heads of department.
The department strategic planning follows three stages:
Stage 1. The draft strategy follows 7 steps. Step 1- planning; step 2- analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges of the discipline; step 3 — building a vision of the discipline; step 4- developing objectives based on the general objectives of the faculty/school and performance measurement techniques; step 5- developing strategic tasks, specific activity; step 6- implementation of the plan; step 7- measuring implementation and results evaluation;
Stage 2. Step 1 – organizing consultations of lecturers and leaders of department and school; step 2 — completing the plan.
Stage 3. Submittance to the faculty or school to approve.
- Training of heads of department on professional leadership and discipline management.
These include such issues as: managing changes in higher education;skills of developing plan of teaching staff of department in order to ensure a sufficient number of subjects, implemented structure of training program and scientific development; the training and retraining of lecturers; teaching leaders; developing academic and training programs to meet the needs of society; Mnaging assessment and accrediation of education; developing culture of high quality in the department [4, p.3].
- Training of head of department on directing capacity to build and develop training programs.
These include such issues as: programs, training programs, developing training programs; methodologies and approaches to develop training programs; models of program development in the world; developing process of outcome standards and training program; skills of leadership to restructure educational curriculum, structure of subjects in the current program in order to meet social demands [7, p.13].
- Training of heads of department on capacity of scientific research organization and management of lecturers.
These include such issues as: identifying the content of scientific research of lecturers; building managing regulations about scientific research; organizing assessment and classification of scientific research and technical transfer of the faculty; developing the plan of scientific research of the discipline; building scientific research groups of the discipline.
- Training of heads of department about capacity of international cooperations in higher education.
These include such issues as: understanding guidelines and policies of the Party, the State, the Ministry of Educatiom and Training on international cooperation in the higher educaiton; understanding the opportunities and challenges of school in the international integration process; having skills to build global educational thinking; having skills of negotiation, signing and cooperation with universities of other countries in the region to exchange experiences in management, academic, scientific research; fostering and improving capacity of the faculty; organizing exchange and learning experiences for students [3, p. 15].
- Building environment and creating working motivation for lecturers.
These include such issues as: developing mechanisums to reward staff who have a lot of achievements and contributions to training, scientific research and technical transfer; organizing of the leading faculty and junior faculty visits, exchange, and teaching in the country and abroad; promoting the independence and creativity of teachers in order to develop the potential of facculty and help them to fulfill the tasks of scientific research and technical transfer to meet the requirements of socio-economic development of the country; developing and implementing policies of priority and honor of teachers well.
- Training of heads of department on foreign language and computer science
These include such issues as: skills of technical information application in education, scientific research and management; foreign language, based on the conditions of each university to offer requirements and appropriate process to help heads of department improve their foreign language skills.
2.3. Building training plan of heads of department.
Based on the practical training demands of heads of department, strategic plan, yearly plan of the school, financial capacity, univeristies will actively develop a training plan annually including: objectives, requirements, contents, training methods, time, fund and responsibilities of related organizations and individuals as the basis of the training implementation. Departments should plan training of heads of department as the following 4 steps: Step 1. Determine the training demand of each head of department; Step 2. Orientate to choose contents, programs, methods of training for each head of department; Step 3: Allocate the fund, time, location for training; Step 4: Submit to the school administration for approval [5, p.12].
2.4. Innovation in orgazation and fostering of heads of department leadership capacity.
Training method. Training from «the top to bottom». This is a way that is usually used in training in oder to help heads of department thoroughly major policies of the Party and the State in education and higher education innovation, directives and plans of Ministry of Education and Training for departments and universities. In our opinion it should concentrate heads of department following school cluster to train them directly.
Training from «the bottom to top». This is a way that bases on the needs of heads of department followingthe style that what they need, they will be trained, what they lack, they will be retrained.
Heads of department are fostered by themselves. At the beginning of the school year, heads of department register self-training plans for faculty or school. The self-training product is one of criteria that is used to plan and evaluate heads of department [8, p.23].
Training method of heads of department in our opinion should combine between learner-centered method and self-training method. So, we propose a training process that includes the following steps:
Step 1. Giving training documents and basic guidelines for heads of department on the document contents.
Step 2. Heads of department should study training documents by themselves.
Step 3. Organize the heads of department to exchange training materials for each school, school clusters.
Step 4. Focus through research and exchange agreements on the contents that is unclear and inconsistent to the heads of departments.
Step 5: Organize explanation of contents in the training documents that is not clear or inconsistent to the heads of department.
Training form. To meet requirements of a modern education, that is higher and higher, heads of department should be trained by verious forms such as:
Fostering frequently: the regular training is done in many ways such as: self-teaching, self-training in educational practice, participation in workshops, attending short-term training courses. Field trips teach managing experiences in some countries in the region and in the world. Self-studying and self-training is the most basic training way via practical activities about discipline management. The head of department gets experience and lessons by hisself and overcomes limitations.
Concentrated fostering: To foster following a systematic way to improve skills for heads of department who have not yet been standardized on the managing level, political theory high-level. It can be concentrated continuously or can be concentrated by each batch, and give the certificate for each batch. When learners can accumulate a sufficient number of certificates of modules, they will be issued a certificate.
Training in the remote form, online with the learning materials for learners or through the Internet.
2.5. Innovation in the training of result evaluation of heads of department.
Along with the innovation of contents, methods and forms of training for heads of department, it is necessary to innovate in the training of result evaluation of heads of department [11, p.5].
In our opinion, it should be evaluated on two fronts: first, awareness of heads of department of issues that were fostered; second, the ability of heads of department to apply knowledge and skills that they were fostered for the leadership, direction, and practical mangement in the discipline.
Various evaluating forms can be used such as: self-assessment, evaluation of faculties/school, evaluations of students.
The assessment results are kept in personnel records, as a basis for planning, training and retraining plans for staff, and plans for staff shift and appointment of heads of department.
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