Czechia and Vietnam: strong bilateral relations between CZU and HUAF universities have potential for much greater expansion

Interview with Prof. Dr. Phung Le Dinh, the Vice-Rector of HUAF

By Klára Jiřičná

How did the cooperation with FTA begin?

It all started more than a decade ago with a development project funded by the Czech government in cooperation with Centre for Rural Development in Vietnam headed by Prof. Jan Banout. More projects and people followed, including Dr. Verner and Dr. Roubík, biogas plant was set up.  Recently, working with Dr. Mazancová, we have been successful in the Erasmus+ Credit Mobility Programme and both students and staff have been exchanged to mutually share experiences and know-how in research and development. Every year there were FTA staff members and students coming to HUAF for their data collections.

One of the famous students was Hynek Roubík, who back then was a MSc student and now has become Associated Professor. We published more than 20 papers together in scientific peer-reviewed journals.

What has changed is that recently one of our students was accepted to become a PhD. student at your faculty. That is a game changer. Now the cooperation is becoming two-way – and our role is increasing.

I really see potential for future cooperation – especially in terms of research. We have different research teams – if we put them together, join forces and create more publications, I can see a consortium between our universities and other institutions in South Asia to join forces on even larger projects. That would be a way to expand our cooperation.

We have had many collaborations, but none like with your university, it lasted for over a decade, and it continues successfully.

How is the cooperation between CZU and HUAF unique?

I believe we always try our best. We care about what we can do together. Almost every week or every month we send message to your staff, and we keep checking what is the progress of mobility exchange and that is important. We see benefit not in terms of money only, but in terms of capacity building and publications.

What do Czechs and Vietnamese have in common?

I think we are rather similar in way of working and enjoying life. We can work very hard and enjoy life as well. And we respect the relationship. We try our best respecting people, cooperate, and always do our best. I have been working with many people from the Czech Republic, I have studied in Europe, and I think Czechs are very direct people. Vietnamese were not so direct in the past, but that is now changing. I think we might be even more direct than you. Both nations are also very flexible – we care about what we can achieve more about the steps towards achieving it.

What is your future vision?

At HUAF we must change to become more autonomous. I would like to connect as many research groups as possible to create more cooperation. In the past HUAF was known for helping local people in poverty reduction and community development, now we are trying to become a research university. We would like to be associated with research in the future.

Do you have any message for the Czech students?

Come and study and perform your research here! You are welcome.

The cooperation between CZU and HUAF was supported by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission

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