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Lao private colleges struggle as ministry begins education upgrade
Publication Date : 20-08-2013
Private colleges in Laos are now registering fewer students after the Ministry of Education and Sports suspended their bachelor programmes this academic year as part of efforts to improve education quality.
Most students who graduated from upper secondary schools are now struggling to enroll at the country's five main universities, which are currently the only places that are allowed to offer bachelor degrees.
President of the Private Education Sector Association and Director of Rattana Business Administration College, Dr Somphet Lattanasim, told Vientiane Times on Monday that most private colleges are suffering from a drop in student numbers.
He said that in previous years, his own college would be crowded with students seeking to register at this time of the year, when normally more than 1,000 people would enroll for courses. However this year, fewer than 100 students have registered.
“Prior to this, students would register to study at a private college as their first choice but this year most students see private colleges as their final option only after failing their university entrance exams,” he said.
All 53 colleges in Laos will struggle to remain financially viable as they have never previously experienced a shortfall of students.
Vice President of the Private Education Sector Association and Director of Xaiphattana College, Xaykhame Vongkhamsone, said fewer than 100 students had registered at his college since July. Normally, 500-600 students would register at this time of the year.
Xaykhame said all private colleges will open for the new academic year and he is hopeful that students who fail university entrance exams will look for courses at private institutions instead.
Over 44,490 students around the country graduated from secondary schools but the four universities under the Ministry of Education and Sports will accept only 9,950 students this coming academic year. The National University of Laos in Vientiane will accept 6,694, Souphanouvong University in Luang Prabang province will enroll 1,297, Savannakhet University will accept 1,125, and Champassak University will take in 834.
Many more students have registered to take entrance exams to study at one of the four universities, aiming to take a bachelor degree.
The current situation in Laos is that most school leavers want to enroll for a bachelor degree, with few people wanting to undertake vocational studies. The ministry wants to reverse this trend by encouraging more people to apply for vocational training to ensure sufficient skilled labourers to meet the needs of industry.
The ban on bachelor degrees in private colleges is part of the Ministry of Education and Sport's education reform initiative, while encouraging private colleges to meet the standards set by the ministry.
The ban will continue until 2015, meaning that only those private colleges that improve and meet the standards required will be allowed to reopen their bachelor courses at some point in the future.