FPT University - Pioneer story and the "Sandwich"

    English training and "Sandwich" model are the two crucial decisions that make a Pioneer FPT in Education nowadays.
    Founded in 2006, FPT University is the first private university in Vietnam which originated from a business. Until now, FPT University was still consistent with the vision from the beginning, that is to innovate education and "provide global rival ability for learners, contributing to expanding national knowledge".
    Prof. Nguyen Khac Thanh, Principal of FPT University, has shared with VnExpress about the difficult path of pioneer in education, but also record achievements of the Corporation.

    Prof. Nguyen Khac Thanh, Principal of FPT University

    Pioneer inspiration from export software
    - As one of the founders of FPT University, could you inform me of which factors inspire a technology corporation to expand into education?
    The first milestone for the establishment of FPT Education (FPT Edu) was 1999.  At that time, At that time, the future of the corporation was discussed with a new direction to export software to the world. To do that thing, FPT needs high quality computer programmers and IT engineers. Therefore, education development is a compulsory demand.
    In 1999, we followed the Indian APTECH curriculum to train IT occupation. This was a breakthrough phenomenon in not only Vietnamese technology, but also in society by that time.
    In 2006, we began the University educating. From the day one, Mr. Truong Gia Binh has desired that FPT University have a great reputation in Vietnamese Education. For that reason, the target throughout development activities are encapsulate in 2 main points
    The first is training students to take part in the global battlefield.
    The second is that in that battle, FPT Edu not only provides quality student resources, but also needs to solve the problem of training the amount of learners.
    At first, when Mr. Binh set a target to train 50,000 students, we all afraid this was a great number, but after considering, we realized that to become a Mega University,  there must be at least 100,000 students. Therefore, we aim to have 150,000 students by 2020, in which foreign students account for 15%.


    FPT University's Hoa Lac Campus with modern lecture halls and poetic background.

    - Looking back now, you state what key decisions make the FPT brand today?
    The first key decision is using English in teaching. Students who enter the university have to study one-year English, after that, they must use English through all learning processes. This makes FPT students become more confident, quickly integrate with the international environment, and could have more opportunities working abroad. 
    The second is to apply the “Sandwich” model, training related to business. There are 9 semesters at FPT University, in which, the first 5 semesters focus on providing knowledge, the students have an On the Job Training term at business as official employees, experience and responsible for meeting the deadline, to be under pressure of reports… Finally, students go back to school and finish 3 semesters left. Now, the study will be effective because students have already known what the industry needs as well as acknowledge their own weaknesses, thereby creating more motivations for them to study.
    I have to say, we get this advantage because our school is a business school. FPT Edu and FPT Software always go with each other. FPT Software will be a convenient environment for students to work and experience. 
    This is a distinct factor that universities in Vietnam rarely have.

    Start-up environment and internationalization
    - What does FPT University prepare for students with changes that are brought by the 4.0 revolution?
    Each of the students can study and activate in an open, youthful, creative and competitive environment. The atmosphere that we created in FPT University feels like a business environment, where you can combine 2 factors: school and marketplace.
    We bring up generations who have a high start-up spirit in a natural way, they don’t need to follow any trends.
    I personally think that great opportunities create great people. Schools should be the place which wakes their quality up, which prepares and makes some “practice fights” for students.
    In FPT school, we have technology subjects, training for essential skills, soft skills and entrepreneurship, and teamwork spirit. In addition, we have our own department called PDP (Personality Development Program) - in charge of personal development programs. All of the above factors combine to make students live in the educational environment of entrepreneurship naturally.


    - Can you tell us how the spirit of internationalization in education is implemented by FPT?
    "Internationalization" is one of the important criteria to evaluate the success of a university in the prestigious international education rankings. Scores of this segment are scored based on the number of foreign lecturers and students who are working and studying at the university, and cooperating with prestigious universities to write international articles…
    Internationalization is difficult for many Vietnamese universities, one of the reasons is we don’t have a strong national brand. For example, countries like Japan, Korea, America ... they own strong brands, so their universities benefit significantly from the national reputation.
    However, this is what FPT University is doing quite well and is proud to be one of the best performers today. Currently we have lecturers from more than 10 countries such as the UK, USA, New Zealand, Philippines ... For learners, FPT University not only sends students abroad, but also attracts international students.
    Many foreign students come to FPT University to actually study, not for short-term exchange, or to get a degree in "Vietnamese", they want to get degrees in Information Technology, Business Administration ... The number of international students going to short-term and long-term exchange in 2017 is about 500.

    Consistently with the path of modernize education
    - In your opinion, what contribution has FPT University made to Vietnam's education?
    In the Vietnamese university system, public school students account for about 86%, private schools only 14%, and FPT occupies only a very small position out of that 14%. However, during the past years, in the field of education, FPT University has ensured the pioneering spirit that the group aims to. 
    In 2006, we were the first university to enroll with open essays and logical thinking. Only a few years later, these types of exam questions appeared in the official exams of Vietnam. 
    FPT also focuses on finding and discovering special qualities from learners. We test their problem solving skills, logical thinking skills, language thinking skills. The exams have no absolute right or wrong answers, candidates need arguments to defend their opinions and persuade the judging committee.
    In addition, in the first year of building the school, we did not have a centralized lab because the whole school was a large lab. Each student entering the school is equipped with a personal laptop. All learning and exam activities of FPT students took place on computers. 12 years ago, this was a revolution in teaching and learning because at that time laptops were not available and public wifi was not popular.
    This led to challenges in exam management and fraud prevention. But we solved this problem and maintained the technology exam teaching system until now.
    In FPT Edu, children have been strengthened in extracurricular, physical activities from elementary school to have a spirit of happiness, desire to learn, and want to go to school. Beside that, we also focus on foreign language training and STEM (Science - Technology - Engineering - Mathematics) to increase creativity, tinkering with technology, self-making programming and scientific products.


    - How is the FPT system preparing for the upcoming changes of the education industry in Vietnam and the world?
    Currently, we are implementing both training models: traditional on campus training and FUNiX online training. Each training method has its own merits.
    With the online training program, learners receive a lot of new values such as saving time on school, taking advantage of reputable resources on the Internet, and being guided by professional mentors.
    As for traditional training, students can communicate directly with teachers and classmates, experience the competition and pressure from the environment, and have real learning experiences.
    I can see the future learning model will be the intersection between these two models. Learners will be given more autonomy in learning, taking advantage of the power of technology and also enjoying the values of traditional schools.

    Phuong Nguyen - Pham An
    VnExpress

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