Mr. Martin Bean, the new Vice-Chancellor and President of RMIT University, spoke with VET during his short visit to Vietnam.
■ What have you learned about Vietnam through your work and especially during this particularly short visit that has interested you the most?
This is my second time to Vietnam. Coming here today is a wonderful experience, as I can recognize the country's economic growth as well as the passion and design of RMIT University. Meeting the staff and students gives me energy and excites me about the possibilities for the future. Students at RMIT Vietnam understand that they study in a unique institution that is quite different from other universities in Vietnam. A university that operates with a global status increases the students' opportunities to experience global changes. We need to make sure that our students are able to have the skills, confidence and enthusiasm needed to support Vietnam's economic growth, its government, and its community. It has been very interesting to see the work we do and the role the university plays in Vietnam for the overall development of the country and its economy.
■ How would you comment on the role of international education in Vietnam?
As Vietnam is such an important player in global affairs now it's very important for an international university like RMIT to be able to operate in the country. RMIT has operated in numerous other places, such as Europe, China, Hong Kong and Singapore. As a result it not only provides gateways for new experiences in education but also gives students the chance to work and study in other countries. On the other hand, students from other countries are also able to come to Vietnam and deeply understand the Vietnamese economy and society. The greatest success for an international university is to send students in both directions and create a deeper understanding of Vietnam's development. An international institution plays a vital role in bringing the student community together to understand working processes at the global level. Students can also choose to study at any RMIT campus or at any university of our partners. The university chooses our partners carefully in terms of quality, programs, and teaching methods.
■ What will be the orientation of RMIT Vietnam over the next five to ten years?
We will focus on three things: differentiation, quality, and research to see how we can contribute to Vietnam's development. In terms of differentiation, as RMIT is known as a distinctive institution established for a long time we have high quality and experience and operate on a global scale, and we believe that our graduates finish their courses with confidence and the desire to contribute to the economy here and around the world. So maintaining strong differentiation about who we are is a significant goal of RMIT. Regarding the quality of the student experience, RMIT not only provides the best in international learning and teaching but also provides distinctive outcomes, in terms of graduates finding jobs or starting their own business. The final thing is research. This is about how the university can contribute not only to the education sector but also to the growth of the economy and Vietnamese society. In order to achieve this, RMIT is committed to supporting research and creating wonderful innovation in areas such as biotechnology.
■ Can you tell us about the role of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)? What are the benefits of this model for Vietnamese students?
2012 was an important year for the intersection of technology and education. Numerous leading universities used technology to provide their courses to massive audiences. Higher education discovered that technology use provides great opportunities for many more people. Because of MOOC, universities are able to give the best available tools for education and one of the best tools is the use of technology. So it's not about MOOC, it's about the fact that universities today have to rise to the challenge to make sure their teaching and learning serves purposes in the 21st century. This means that we need to have the courage to change the way we teach, to reflect the society we live in and use the best of technology and the environment to have great teaching. In order to deliver the best teaching methods in the 21st century, technology plays an important role. Universities need to use technology for teaching and learning in more effective ways. It is important to make universities and institutions understand the meaning of technology's role and move forward. That is what RMIT does very well, because we understand that if we don't want to stand still we must change.
Technology gives Vietnamese students a great opportunity to access the best content on the planet. Students have the chance to locate information and conduct research through a huge source of books, journal articles, audios, videos, board discussions, and e-books when they log on to the website. They can also develop interaction with lecturers and professionals. For example, a lecture can be captured on video and students are able to watch it before going to the classroom. Therefore, instead of listening to the lecture, they can have a fantastic conversation and have time to question, discuss, and debate. This is the best way for students to learn and interact with lecturers and professionals.