NTU Interim President Ching-Ray Chang, who serves as head of the National Taiwan University System (NTUS), led a delegation of representatives from the three NTUS member universities to pay an official visit to the headquarters of Viet Nam National University, Ho Chi Minh City (VNUHCM) on July 7.
During the visit, which was organized in order to facilitate international academic collaboration and exchanges with Vietnam, President Chang discussed future directions for collaboration and signed a memorandum of understanding for academic cooperation with VNUHCM President Huynh Thanh Dat. Director General Liang Kuang-Chung of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Ho Chi Minh City helped facilitate the delegation's trip to Vietnam and attended the signing ceremony as well.
With the signing of the memorandum, NTUS and VNUHCM formally agreed to pursue meaningful collaboration across multiple academic disciplines as well as to initiate student and faculty exchange programs. Furthermore, the agreement calls for the launching of joint research projects in areas of shared interest and the establishment of scholarships that will help Vietnamese students study in Taiwan and Taiwanese students study in Vietnam.
The signing of the memorandum marked a major move forward for substantive academic cooperation and exchanges between institutions of higher education in Taiwan and Vietnam, and heralded the beginning of Taiwan's effort to promote collaboration with institutions of higher education in the Southeast Asian region as a whole.
Both NTUS and VNUHCM are university systems comprised of multiple affiliated universities and colleges. VNUHCM was founded in 1995 through the merging of nine prestigious universities in Ho Chi Minh City. The campuses of the VNUHCM member universities cover a combined area of nearly 645 hectares.
For its part, NTUS, which went originally by the name NTU Triangle Alliance, is composed of NTU, National Taiwan Normal University, and National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, three closely located elite universities in Taipei City.
The combined student enrollment of the VNUHCM system is of a comparable scale to that of NTUS. However, a major difference between the two university systems is that the VNUHCM system is governed directly by Vietnam's prime minister, who is responsible for drawing up the system's budgets as well. Moreover, the hierarchical position of the president of the VNUHCM system within the Vietnamese government is on the same level as that of Vietnam’s minister of education.