Developing generic skills for students via extra-curricular activities in Vietnamese universities: Practices and influential factors

Tran Le Huu Nghia


Developing generic skills (GS) for students has become central in many higher education curricula lately. However, there is still a lack of studies regarding how these skills are developed for students, especially those in developing countries. Drawing from a PhD study, this article reports the contribution of extra-curricular activities in developing GS for students in Vietnamese universities and analyses factors influencing the effectiveness of developing GS for students via these activities. A content analysis of relevant documents and 69 interviews with university leaders, academics and organisers of the Youth union and its associates (YUA) showed that extra-curricular activities were involved as an integral component of a university’s strategy for training students in GS. This was due to a lack of curriculum autonomy, which restricted most Vietnamese universities from adding skills subjects into the curriculum, and the YUA also had a long-standing tradition of developing non-discipline-specific skills for students. The YUA were found to successfully develop GS for students via extra-curricular activities; however, their operation was influenced by university leadership, student participation, external stakeholders’ support, and the leadership of the YUA. The article argues that extra-curricular activities were conducive to developing GS for students; therefore, they should be included in student skills development programs in higher education.


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