The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Vietnam.
Low student and staff morale and declining academic standards place the branch campus far away from its mission to serve Vietnam.
‘I sat down to lunch outdoors with my manager Michelle on RMIT Vietnam’s gorgeous Saigon South campus, the cooler winter temperatures making it bearable to spend time outdoors for the first time in weeks.
She seemed nervous. A senior administrator had unveiled a new edict by email the night prior – unexpectedly and during semester break – mandating that all materials including journal articles, videos or anything else more than three years old be replaced, meaning academics would be forced to rework entire courses.The senior administrator was on vacation (seemingly, she always was), so it fell on Michelle (not her real name) to bear the brunt of faculty discontent. Michelle was a long-time RMIT Vietnam expat employee and Saigon resident. Faculty workloads already presented a minefield for mid-level administrators like her, and burnout and turnover created an endless churn of lecturers.
She did not appreciate my question of whether Japanese instructors would be restricted to Kanji under three years old.
This type of management by ambush was the only type I experienced during my time at RMIT Vietnam as its learning design coordinator from July 2017 until July 2018. I walked off the job after being routinely mistreated by management and supervised via drive-by performance assessment.
I came to RMIT Vietnam hoping to contribute to an institution dedicated to improving opportunities for young Saigonese students. Instead, I found what amounted to a grown-up version of Asia’s notorious for-profit cram schools, a factory designed to push anyone through and grind staff down until they quit and were replaced.
In my year at RMIT Vietnam I saw a senior academic ambushed in a meeting by administrators who held him responsible for a lack of progress in designing a new programme, even though he was working alone and was forced to maintain his normal workload as well.
I also saw academics forced to supervise unqualified PhD candidates studying outside their area of expertise, a leave request to visit an ailing mother during a semester denied, and a constant stream of friendship hires in administrative offices.
RMIT Vietnam has a number of dedicated, hard-working lecturers and employees who believe in bringing an accessible, high-quality education to the country’s youth, but they remain the minority. They are best described with one word: harried. A relentless year-round trimester schedule, no allocation for research, and unpredictable edicts from “upstairs” – the senior administration – leave many treading water until semester’s end, when the cycle almost immediately begins anew.
Read more : Times Higher Education : Matthew D. Edward : November 5, 2018.