Market forces are working against college courses on Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, where the communist government has resorted to offering the classes free of charge to attract students.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree giving free tuition to students agreeing to take four-year courses on Marxism-Leninism and the thoughts of the revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh at state-run universities. Students have been shunning such instruction because employers are not interested in it, said Pham Tan Ha, head of admission and training at Ho Chi Minh City Social and Human Sciences University.
Courses like communications, tourism, international relations and English are more popular because students believe "they will have better chances of employment and better pay when they graduate", he said.
Students who study certain medical specialties such as tuberculosis and leprosy will also get a free ride under the decree. Ordinarily they would have to pay the equivalent of about US$200 a year for tuition.
More than 60 per cent of Vietnam's 90 million people are under 30, a demographic sweet spot that can lead to fast economic growth in developing countries. But many employees complain about the quality of graduates that Vietnamese universities are producing.
There are many private universities alongside the state-run system, but for those with money studying overseas is considered the best option.