Refining policy for intellectuals in science and technology: Current state and some key solutions

Ministry of Science and Technology
Monday, May 20, 2024 08:15

Communist Review - The 13th National Party Congress defined development and innovation in science and technology as strategic breakthroughs, especially given the robust Fourth Industrial Revolution worldwide. As science and technology specialists serve as the nucleus of this process, there is an urgent need to fine-tune policy for this workforce in the coming period. 

A researcher works on a new crop variety _Photo:

Policies on science and technology organizations

Part 1 of Article 9 of the 2013 Law on Science and Technology defines science and technology organizations(1) as including:

1. Scientific research and technological development organizations in the form of academies, institutes, centers, laboratories, research stations, observatories, testing stations, and other forms as specified by the Minister of Science and Technology;

2. Tertiary education institutions organized in accordance with the Law on Higher Education;

3. Scientific and technological service organizations organized in the form of centers, offices, testing chambers, and other forms.

Each type of science and technology organization operates differently in line with the functions and tasks assigned to each.

Current policies on science and technology organizations are intended to grant autonomy to public science and technology organizations(2) and establish science and technology enterprises(3); allow the establishment of foreign science and technology representative offices and branches, science and technology joint ventures, or 100% foreign-invested science and technology enterprises in Vietnam in areas where there is a demand; and create a legal framework for businesses to establish research and development (R&D) organizations. New regulations give public science and technology units a high degree of autonomy in determining and implementing tasks and arranging their apparatus and finances, as well as the right to produce, do business, and enjoy certain privileges granted to a business(4). Science and technology enterprises enjoy the most hospitable privileges in corporate income tax, registration fees, and the right to use assets and land for production and business.

However, the implementation of policies on science and technology organizations remains ineffective. Imbalances in the structure, quantity, and forms of science and technology organizations in Vietnam are a serious concern for current science and technology activities and result in a bottleneck in promoting technology transfer and application for national socio-economic development. This results in a dispersion of social resources for science and technology organizations, particularly resources for key research and research related to national socio-economic development. Social resources (including resources from businesses) allocated for science and technology are also limited. This is the root cause of the imbalance in quantity, quality, and structure of the science and technology workforce in enterprises.

Policies on human resources in science and technology

Current policies and regulations on human resources in science and technology are designed and implemented to prioritize recruitment, appointment, salary increases, and promotion based on the performance and achievements of each individual instead of through examinations, seniority or training. Leading scientists are assigned with nationally important science and technology tasks while talented young scientists receive funding from the state budget to carry out key research projects, publish research results in reputable international scientific journals, register intellectual property rights, make public outstanding scientific works, and participate in domestic and international conferences and workshops.

Scientists assigned with nationally important science and technology tasks enjoy autonomy in financial and human resources and are provided with means of transportation and accommodation, among other preferential treatments. Talented young scientists (individuals under 35 years old, with a doctoral degree or higher, and a record of outstanding achievements in science and technology) are prioritized for postdoctoral scholarships, internships, and temporary work at reputable foreign science and technology organizations, and recruitment by public science and technology organizations(5) without admission tests. Overseas Vietnamese and foreigners who are engaged in science and technology activities in Vietnam and meet certain criteria, including achievements, educational background, and experience, are entitled to benefits in entry and exit, residence, recruitment, employment,  education, salary, accommodation, rewards, and honors, among others(6).

Conclusion 52-KL/TW of the Party Central Committee‘s Secretariat, dated May 30, 2019, on "Continued implementation of the Resolution of the 10th Party Central Committee’s 7th plenum on building the contingent of intellectuals during the period of accelerating national industrialization and modernization" pointed out several limitations and shortcomings in the implementation process. They included delays in concretizing and institutionalizing many contents of the resolution; lack of consistency and breakthroughs in implementation; slow innovation in leadership; serious shortages of innovative and leading experts; neglect of Vietnamese intellectual diaspora; and the bureaucratic sluggishness and ineffectiveness  of non-business public units, scientific research establishments, and intellectual associations.

Some key solutions to fine-tuning policies on intellectuals involved in science and technology

First, improve awareness in building and implementing policies regarding science and technology specialists in particular, and in refining institutions on the development of science and technology in general.

First, science and technology specialists or personnel in science and technology are part of the science and technology system. Policies on science and technology specialists cover both the state and non-state sectors. These policies should be feasible and consistent with other science and technology policies. Thus, it is necessary to:

- develop science and technology specialists in quality, quantity, and  structure. Qualifications, work ethics, and capabilities are fundamental attributes of science and technology specialists, whose quality is measured by productivity and effectiveness. Science and technology specialists are developed through training and practical experience.

- ensure the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of specialists according to the 2013 Constitution which stipulates that all people are equal before law and that everyone has the right to conduct scientific or technological research, or literary or artistic creation. In building and implementing policies on science and technology specialists, it is essential to first have a correct understanding of the nature and characteristics of each form of science and technology organizations. It is also necessary to respect and ensure the rights of organizations and individuals participating in scientific research, such as the right to propose research ideas and topics, and the right to determine the name, objectives, and content of the research.

- fulfill the responsibilities of the State as stipulated in the 2013 Constitution, “The State shall prioritize investment in, and encourage organizations and individuals to invest in, research, development, transfer and effective application of scientific and technological achievements; guarantee the right to conduct scientific and technological research; and protect intellectual property rights. The State shall create the conditions for everyone to participate in, and to enjoy the benefits from, scientific and technological activities.” It is necessary to have a full understanding of the role and responsibility of state management agencies in creating a healthy environment for scientific and technological activities as well as in accurately assessing and acknowledging the work of science and technology organizations and individuals. "Three correctnesses" are required to effectively mobilize and use resources for the development of science and technology, namely correct understanding of the missions of science and technology; correct implementation of science and technology tasks; and correct evaluation of the results of the implementation of science and technology tasks.

Second, it is crucial to ensure a thorough and consistent understanding of the building and implementation of policies on science and technology specialists in particular, and the completion of institutions on the development of science and technology in general. This involves resolutely transforming the decision-making process in policy and law making, which leaves room for subjectivity and voluntarism, into a practical and scientific evidence-based model. Prior to any law-making decision, it is essential to   conduct policy studies, surveys, analysis, and assessment to select the best option. It is also important to follow policy impact evaluation regulations and processes which include evaluating economic impacts, administrative procedure impacts (if any), social impacts, gender impacts (if any), and impacts on ensuring democracy, fulfilling responsibilities, and adhering to ethical standards in policy making and implementation.

Second, review the policy and legal system on science and technology

State management agencies should review the current system of policies and laws on science and technology to identify policies which are irrelevant or hinder other policies, and pinpoint loopholes that need to be fixed.  

Third, diversify methods of training, use, and treatment of science and technology specialists

The 13th Party Congress’ documents emphasized the need to “develop human resources, especially high-quality human resources; and prioritize the development of human resources for leadership, management, and key areas by ensuring strong, comprehensive, and fundamental improvements in education and training quality coupled with mechanisms on recruiting, utilizing, and treating talents and promoting science and technology research, transfer, application, development, and innovation.”(7)

Comprehending the 13th National Party Congress’ guidelines and drawing on the limitations and shortcomings in science and technology human resources policies, ministries, sectors, and localities need to focus on the following key solutions:

First, provide continuous and regular training for science and technology specialists and ensure a balanced structure of expertise, age, and gender among generations of researchers. It is essential to diversify forms of training, particularly for young science and technology specialists. In addition to training programs at home and abroad, great importance should be attached to in-house mentoring and knowledge transfer within each science and technology organization and among organizations to bridge the generation gap.

Second, gradually integrate various forms and methods of training of international standards in the educational system, from elementary to tertiary levels, both in public and private sectors, to develop future specialists.

Third, build an ecosystem which incorporates education and training with  recruitment, utilization, and preferential treatment of science and technology specialists. State management agencies need to make short, medium, and long-term personnel plans to meet current and future needs, both domestically and internationally.

Fourth, establish a resource allocation roadmap to develop science and technology specialists in the direction of reducing State investment and increasing social resources. It is crucial to increase investment in research and development to produce knowledge-intensive products such as inventions, innovations, and technical and management solutions to serve socio-economic development.


(1) Science and technology organizations are entities whose main function  involves scientific research, technological research and development, and the provision of scientific and technological services. They are established and registered in accordance with law.
(2) The Government’s Decree 115/2005/ND-CP, dated September 5, 2005, providing the autonomy and self-responsibility mechanism of public science and technology organizations.
(3) The Government’s Decree 80/2010/ND-CP, dated July 14, 2010,  on cooperation and investment with foreign countries in the field of science and technology.
(4) The Government’s Decree 54/2016/ND-CP, dated June 14, 2016,  on the autonomy mechanism of public science and technology organizations.
(5) The Government’s Decree 40/2014/ND-CP, dated May 12, 2014, on the use and treatment of individuals engaged in science and technology."
(6) The Government’s Decree 87/2014/NĐ-CP, dated September 22, 2014, on attracting overseas Vietnamese and foreign experts engaged in scientific and technological activities in Vietnam.
(7) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, Volume 2, p. 338.

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1013 (May 2023)