The Ministry of Education and Training will set up a special group to verify standards at higher-education institutes as the process has been termed "sluggish" in recent years.

The new organisation, to be known as the Centre for Education Accreditation under the Hanoi-based Vietnam National University, will assess and verify each syllabus, facilities, management, and the quality of tertiary teachers.

Another centre may be established at the Ho Chi Minh City-based branch of the National University.

A total of 339 out of the nearly 500 universities and colleges across the country have completed an educational quality self-assessment review, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry.

However, an assessor did not have time to check all the results, but agreed that 40 had received quality verification in accordance with the Ministry's set of criterion as of 2005, Doctor Nguyen Tien Dung from Ho Chi Minh City-based University of Technical Education told Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) newspaper.

Dung said the Ministry lacked assessors, forcing it to conduct education accreditation single-handed, which slowed down the whole process of verification.

Many experts believe that verification is necessary to check the accuracy of the self-assessment reviews, and reflect the real quality of universities and colleges.

Because the new centre will still be under the ministry's management, some experts are concerned about its reliability.

They said that any organisation that managed and verified educational quality should be independent of the Ministry of Education and Training and directly funded by the Government.-VNA