Consult Compendium

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Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Last updated in 2021

Chapter 1: Higher Education System

Section 1.1.: Schematic Description of the Higher Education System

 

Section 1.2: Description of Higher Education System

Education System and agenda. The formal education system in Laos consists of general education (Early Childhood Education: nursery( ages 0-2), kindergarten (ages 3-5), and preschool(Newly established only for ages 5s), Primary Education(ages 6-11 for 5 years), Lower Secondary Education (ages 11-15 for 4 year), Upper Secondary School (ages 15-18 for 3 years), Technical and Vocational Education and training (TVET) and Higher Education. On the other hand, non-formal education is provided mainly for adults and children who have never attended school.
The system provides academic programs for those who have completed upper secondary education. Academic program offers associate degree, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and Doctoral degree; The Department of Higher (DHE) is responsible for managing, coordinating, and monitoring the higher education sector.

 

Section 1.3: Number of Higher Education Institutions

The higher education in Laos is comprised of the following institutions:

  • National University of Laos (NUOL),
  • Champasack University (CU)
  • Souphanouvong University(SU)
  • Savannakhet University (SKU)
  • University of health Sciences(administered by Ministry of Health)

10 Teachers Training Colleges and 95 private colleges; and 3 colleagues upgrade and allow being higher institutions for teaching and learning Bachelor degree

  1. Rattana Institute of Business Administration
  2. Sengsavanh Institute of Business
  3. Soutsaka Institute of Management and Technology

 

Section 1.4 Number of Students in Higher Education

For the number of students who enrolled at five public universities in the 2014-2015 academic year was 36,728 in total (female 16,087). The number of staff and lecturers who work and teach at five universities under the Ministry of Education and Sports is 2,935, (female 1,221 or equivalent to 41.6%), of which have PhD’s (29 females); 935 have master’s (297 females); 1,534 have a bachelor’s degree (759 females); 156 are pre-bachelor (92 females) and 175 with lower certificate levels (44 females). Also, there are 7 professors and 171 associate professors, of whom 31 are female. There are 456 curricula (19 pre-bachelors, 352 bachelors, 66 master and 2 PhD), 9 first level of specialist curricula and 2 second level of specialist curricula.

Enrolment projection at four universities

2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Number of new enrolments
9,000
10,000
11,000
12,000
12,500
Total students (four universities only)
36,000
38,000
39,000
42,000
45,000

 

Section 1.5: Structure of Academic Year

Academic year comprise of two semesters with 20 weeks each:

First semester is start on September to January; and second semester is start on February to June. Furthermore, final Examination is on July, then graduation ceremony is on August.

One Semester comprises 20 Weeks:

  • Studying Time : 16 Weeks
  • Pre-Examination : 01 Weeks
  • Semester’s Examination : 02 Weeks
  • Semester’s Recreation : 01 Weeks

 

Section 1.6: National Qualifications Framework (or Similar)

The formal education in Laos consists of 08 levelsprimary school (five years), lower secondary school (four years), upper secondary school (4 years), post-secondary education (one to two years) and tertiary education (three to six years). Specialization starts in upper secondary where three programs are offered such as general/ academic, vocational and teacher training, and increases at tertiary level. The education system is administered by the Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) through a number of departments. In addition for higher education institutes consist 5-8 concerning Knowledge Domain, Skills Domain, Application Domain and Social skills Domain that including Associate Degree, Bachelor Degree, Master Degree and Doctoral Degree.

 

Section 1.7: Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

Learning outcomes are concerned with the achievements of the learner. They are statements of what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completion of a process of learning. Aims or objectives, on the other hand, are concerned with teaching and the teacher’s intentions as expressed in the aims or objectives of a course or lesson.
Learning outcomes are commonly divided into different categories of outcomes such as discipline-specific outcomes that relate to the subject discipline and the knowledge and/or skills related to it; and generic (sometimes called transferable skills or lifelong learning skills) outcomes that non-discipline-specific e.g. written, oral, problem- solving, information technology, and team working skills etc.

 

Section 1.8: Admission Requirements to Higher Education

Lao PDR doesn’t have decrees informal for Admission requirements to Higher Education yet, education system, the formal education in Laos includes five levels: primary school (five years), lower secondary school (four years), upper secondary school (three years), and tertiary education (three to seven years). Specialization starts in upper secondary where three programs are offered such as general/ academic, vocational and teacher training, and increases at tertiary level.

  • Associate Degree and Bachelor’s degree programmes is National Curriculum Standard for Bachelor degree, those who attend a bachelor’s degree program must have completed upper secondary school or equivalent education, diplomatic graduates or equivalent level. An upper secondary school after pasting the National College Entrance Examination may study in a higher Education Institution.
  • Master’s degree programmes is National Curriculum Standard for Master’s degree, A bachelor degree holder, or a student with the equivalent education level may be admitted to an education programme in a master’s degree awarding institution and with the same subject, good results, have a basic knowledge, ability, and readiness to write a thesis.
  • Doctor’s Degree Programmes is National Curriculum Standard for Doctor’s degree, A Master’s degree holder, or a student with the equivalent education level may be admitted to an education programme in a
  • Doctoral degree awarding institution with the same subject, average level of accumulation is (GPA) 3.00 or at least than 2 years.

 

Section 1.9: Grading System

For measurement evaluation study exposed had 3 formats such as: Continuous inspection, Testing middle and end of semester exams or completion exam or academic reports, final project and thesis. Grading System: Based on the National University Regulation on Teaching-Learning and Assessment for B.Sc. and Continuing B.Sc. the grading for assessment is tabulated below.

No
Grade
Meaning
GPA
​Score %
01
A
Excellent
90-100
4.00
02
  B+
Very Good
80-89
      3.50
03
B
Good
70-79
3.00
04
 C+
Fairy Good
60-69
2.50
05
        C
Fairy
50-59
2.00
06
  D+
Poor
31-49
1.50
07
D
Very Poor
16-30
1.00
08
F
Fail
0-49
0.00
09
I
Incomplete

Assessment of curriculum objectives: The assessment methods are in line with and consistent to the behavioural objectives of the curriculum. In order to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum implementation, the assessment methods have to be consistent with the objectives of the curriculum.

 

Section 1.10: Tuition Fee System for International Students

Not applicable.

 

Section 1.11: Graduation Requirements and/or Qualification Awarding Requirements

  • Associate Degree and Bachelor’s degree programmes: A student may be awarding a graduation Certificate Bachelor’s degree upon completion of a four-year higher education programme and may be awarded a bachelor’s degree upon successfully meeting the Degree requirements
  • Master’s degree programmes: A students may be awarded a graduations Certificate (Master level) after studying or researching for two or three year or a Master’s degree upon successfully meeting the Master’s Degree requirements has require the academic articles must be published and published in a scientific journal has citation index/impact with at least 1 article and 1 paper at a scientific conference. And the thesis must pass the inspection committee and be certified in accuracy and quality.
  • Doctor’s Degree Programmes: A students may be awarded a graduations Certificate (Master level) after studying or researching for three or four year or a Doctor’s degree upon successfully meeting the Doctor’s Degree requirements has require the academic articles must be published and published in a scientific journal has citation index/impact with at least 2 article and 2 paper at a scientific conference. And the dissertation must pass the inspection committee and be certified in accuracy and quality.

 

Section 1.12: Relevant Current and Prospective Reforms in Higher Education

The government began structural reforms in 1986 with the objective to accelerate the transition from a centrally planned to a market-oriented economy. As a part of this effort, the government has instituted various legal and administrative reforms to support the overall development of its economy and education, the vision of the reforms is to elevate the country from its current state of least-developed to well develop by 2020.

The Education reform 2006-2015 had been implemented to promote human resource development, by focusing on the expansion of access to education, improving the quality of existing education, and improving education management and administration. The reform was initiated with the involvement and participation of the society. It promotes technical and vocational education, preserves unique tradition and the culture of the nation and enhances the status of teachers, by upholding the importance of their roles and positions. The national education reform was divided into two phases: 1). First phases 2006-2010: General education reform (public and private) and 2). Second phases 2011-2015 Technical vocational and higher education reform, by the year 2020 compulsory education has to cover primary and lower secondary education, with all children entering into grade one of primary having to pass preparatory education in early childhood education.

Alongside with the vision to 2030, the government also identified overall directions for socio-economic strategy to 2025, one in which the government has identified cultural-social development as the highest priority of strategic development by focusing on improving the livelihoods of people, poverty reduction, cultural and educational development and labour force skills development in terms of quantity and quality. Based on the government’s vision and strategy the higher education must play more attending to with the demands of the labour market promote human resource development with quality, consistent with the demands of socio-economic development that can compete and link with regional and international areas, support equitable access to higher education expansion of student enrolment in priority sectors: education, teaching, engineering, science, technology, and agriculture according to national and local needs and implement policies on expansion of higher education access for excellent students, those who are disadvantaged, particularly girls, ethnic and the poor by providing scholarships, and create a study loans system.

In additional, the government invests more in higher education specifically in construction and rehabilitation for four public universities for improving Higher Education are as follows:

  • Develop higher education to meet the demands of labor market and the National Socio-Economic Development Plan, to support equitable access to higher education and Improve and expand higher education infrastructure
  • Improve the quality of teaching and learning, to improve the quality of higher education teaching and learning.
  • Support science research, technology development and technical services to meet socio-economic development needs, to increase capacity for quality research, technology innovation and technical services.
  • Improve higher education quality assurance, Produce and develop a higher education quality assurance system.
  • Improve higher education governance and management, to produce a good governance management system and support HEIs and DHE to have data and information systems to inform planning and decision-making and to increase funding for HEIs from government and non-government sources.
  • Increase internal and external cooperation, to support internal and external cooperation to improve teaching and learning outcomes and enable higher education to work for society.

 

Chapter 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Section 2.1: Quality Assurance Body in Higher Education

Ministry of Education and Sports, Laos establish the Quality Assurance in 2008 and Quality Assurance Centre for Education by Combining Higher Education Developing and Testing High Quality Education Standards From 2011-2013 and after that implementation of the Phase II educational reform plan on August 16, 2013.

Quality Assurance Centre, Dept. of Higher Education, Ministry of Education QA body, The QA body in Higher Education has fellow on 10 standards and 50 indicators, at the MOES have Quality Assurance Centre lead agency in monitoring and overseeing the QA process is response to education quality assurance has IQA and EQA, improve decrees and recognition; the mechanisms will then be used as common measures for assessing education quality against specified indicators and standards, and each Universities has Quality Assurance Unit need assessment International Quality Assurance (IQA)) them self.
The Educational Standards and Quality Assurance Centre (ESQAC) were established in accordance with Executive Decision No. 1438 dated 10 July 2008. ESQAC reports directly to the Minister of Education and Sports and is responsible for two main technical functions:

  1. Educational testing evaluation (including review of teaching-learning, assessment of knowledge levels, issuance of entrance examinations, handling the examinations with concerned authorities); and
  2. Review of quality assurance at all educational levels for public and private institutions for accreditation purposes. It is also responsible for the development of criteria and methods of EQA and for conducting evaluation of educational achievements in order to determine the quality of institutions. The assessment has to put into consideration the objectives and principles, of each educational level, as stipulated in the law.
    MOES redefined ESQAC’s functions (divisions) and responsibilities by issuing an Executive Decision No. 3481 dated 10 September 2012. ESQAC had four key technical divisions namely learners’ knowledge testing (renamed from educational testing evaluation), QA in general education, QA in TVET and HE, and National Qualifications Framework (NQF) development. The redefined functions and responsibilities had allowed ESQAC to better reallocate its resources and improve its performance.

Following the amended Education Law (2015), on February 28, 2018, MOES Executive Decision No. 920 on Functions and Responsibilities of ESQAC was issued, the third of its kind, and currently being used. Article 2 of this decree states that ESQAC is responsible to the Minister as a secretariat to define the education quality standards of every level, sub-sectors of both public and private and define the national qualifications framework to meet the regional and international standards. The third redefinition of ESQAC technical functions are (i) learning outcomes testing; (ii) QA in early childhood and general education; (iii) QA in TVET and HE; and (iv) NQF development. The MOES Decision further outlined the tasks expected of ESQAC which are as follows:

  1. Work with the standards, operation plans and detail projects, solve issues, focusing on targets within certain periods, coordinate with related organizations to implement ESQAC tasks;
  2. Work with inspection, monitoring, encouraging institutions, drawing the lessons learned, evaluate the good practices and areas of improvement; and
  3. Conduct a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual meeting, and report the progress to superiors and government regularly.

All educational institutions shall be externally assessed at least once every five (5) years and the results of the evaluation shall be submitted to relevant agencies and made available to the general public. The Education Law (2015) stipulates the importance and necessity of both internal and external quality assurance. The external QA refers to the monitoring, assessment, and inspect the quality based on standards set by MOES or international authorities by having a competent EQAA carry out the assessment.

On July 17, 2020, MOES Executive Decision No. 2923 on Functions and Responsibilities of Department of Legislation and Education Quality Assurance (LEQA) was issued, which has merged the ESQAC and Legislation division from Department of Organization and Personnel. LEQA consists 5 divisions such as: (i) Administration, (ii) Legislation Development, (iii) Quality Assurance, (iv) Qualifications Framework Management, and (v) Publicity and Monitoring-Evaluation.

 

Section 2.2: Quality Assurance System

Program
Institution
Voluntary
 
 
Compulsory
X X
Regularity
Postgraduate 3 years
Undergraduate 4 years
External
X X
Internal
X X

Further explanation

In order to attain the overall goals, the strategic plan consists of 7 main components. Each component has guiding principles for the basic thinking behind each strategy. It is a reference point for those involved in the easier implementation of each strategy and the movement towards universality. Some strategic plan, such as:

First, improving the examination, learning assessment and educational competition:

  1. develop standard for learning achievements in each level;
  2. develop structure of exam papers for examination, learning assessment and educational competition;
  3. develop item banks and mechanism to collect items;
  4. review examination rules for graduations and entrances;
  5. review the purpose and processes of learning assessment in primary (Grade 3, 5); (f) develop the learning assessment for secondary education (Grade 9, 12); (g) promote the educational competition

Second, developing quality assurance system for kindergarten and primary education:

  1. develop quality standard for kindergarten;
  2. review quality standard for primary;
  3. develop mechanism for quality self-assessment, internal assessment and external assessment;
  4. develop regulation to provide budgets to school for quality improvement;
  5. develop regulation to accredit school quality for primary and kindergarten.

Third, developing quality assurance system for Vocational Education:

  1. develop quality standard for TVET institutions;
  2. develop mechanism for quality self-assessment, internal assessment and external assessment for TVET institutions;
  3. develop regulation accredit quality of institution for TVET.

Fourth, developing quality assurance system for Higher Education:

  1. develop minimum institutional standard for higher education;
  2. develop regulation for institution audit and license approval;
  3. develop quality standard for program in higher education;
  4. develop mechanism for quality self-assessment, internal assessment and external assessment for higher education;
  5. develop regulation accredit quality of program in higher education institutions.

Fifth, developing quality assurance system for Teacher Education:

  1. develop quality standard for program in teacher education institutions and faculties of education;
  2. develop mechanism for quality self-assessment, internal assessment and external assessment for teacher education;
  3. develop standard for teacher training programs;
  4. develop training registration system;
  5. develop regulation for credits transferring in teacher education.

Sixth, developing quality assurance system for Non-Formal Education:

  1. develop standard for training programs in non-formal education;
  2. develop regulation for admission to formal education.

Seventh, developing national qualification framework:

  1. develop national qualification framework;
  2. develop regulation for credits recognizing and transferring.

 

Evaluation on accredited degree awarding program are conducted on a regular basis, results of evaluations can be as follows:

  • Pass: meaning the program is validated and can continue to enroll students.
  • Conditional pass: meaning the program needs to be rectified within a prescribed time period before a follow-up evaluation, during which the program has to decrease or stop student enrollment.
  • Fall: meaning the program is no longer accredited.

 

Chapter 3: Credit System in Higher Education

Section 3.1: Description of Credit System

Determining the amount of student learning is 48 hours per one credit as the following details:

  1. Theoretical: One Hour theory Lecture Plus with two hours for study research by themselves in one Week or 16 hours theory lecture plus with 32 hours study search by themselves throughout one semester that have equivalent to one credit
  2. Practical: two hours for training, one hours to study research themselves in one week or 32 hours for training, 60 hours study search by themselves throughout one semester that have equivalent to one credit
  3. Training or filed practical, self-study: up 3 hours Training and self-study per one week throughout one semester that have equivalent to one credit

 

Section 3.2: Credit Transfer System(s)

Credit transfer system is achieved only among HEIs with have partnership agreement, and in certain regional with also regional arrangement in place.

 

Section 3.3: Additional Information

 

Section 3.4: Application of Credit System in Higher Education Institutions Obligatory?

Yes.

 

Section 3.5: Number of Credits per Academic Year/Semester

The Higher Education system consist of Associate Degree Program high diplomatic, professional Bachelor’s Degrees, academic Bachelor and Master Degrees and PhD programmes

  1. Credit System
    Credit system consist of:
    1hrs per week or 16hrs per semester as one credit for theory
    2 – 3hrs per week or 32 – 48 hrs per semester as one credit for practices
    3 – 4hrs per week or 48 – 96 hrs. per semester as one credit for field work
  2. Associate Degree Program
    The duration of study is 2-4 years, and the number of credits is 60-114 credits, consist of 60-80 credits for 02 years’ program, and 90-114 credits for 3 years Program and 120-136 credits for 4 years’ program (Medical Program). To admit the students who completed the Upper High School (Grade 12) and the officials who have completed the Vocational and Technical Schools Middle Level or Technician Level or equivalent Programs.
  3. Bachelor’s Degree Program
    The duration of study is 04-06 years, and the number of credits is 120-228 credits, consist of 120-150 credits for 4 years’ program, and 150-180 credits for 5 years’ program and 180-228 credits for 6 years’ program. To admit the students who completed the Upper High School (Grade 12) and the officials who have completed the Vocational and Technical Schools Middle Level or Technician Level or equivalent Programs.
  4. Master’s Degree Program
    The duration of study is more than 1.5 years, and the number of credits is 36-78 credits, consist of 36-52 credits for 2 years’ program, 54-78 credits for 3 years Program. To admit the students who completed the Bachelor’s Degree Program or equivalent Programs.
  5. PhD Program
    The duration of study is 3-5 years, and the number of credits is 48-72 credits. To admit the students who completed the Master’s Degree Program or equivalent Programs.

 

Section 3.6: Number of Credits per Higher Education Cycle

The Associate Degree programmes (Level 5) are 60-80 Credits; most bachelor programmes (Level 6) are 120-150 credits. And the numbers of credits for a master programmes (level 7) are minimum 52 credits, and for Ph.D. (leave 8) are minimum 72 credits.

 

Section 3.7: Description of Credit Unit

The principle of calculating credit unit

  1. Theories lecture or seminar 1 hours/week, for one semester as least 16 hours equal 1 credit unit,
  2. Practical time 2-3 hours/week, for one semester 32-48 hours equal 1 credit unit
  3. Training or field time 3-6 hours/week, for one semester as least 48-96 hours equal 1 credit unit.

 

On other hand, NQF has been developed since 2012. At the beginning, they were drafted as Vocational Qualifications framework. Since 2015, ESQAC has been assigned as the coordinator for National Qualifications Framework included: General Education, Vocational Education and Higher Education. At beginning of 2020, the drafted of NQF has submitted to Ministry of Justice for submission to Prime Minister Office as the Decree. Due to the government has supported to issue the Law on Higher Education; the NQF issuing has been postponed assuring the alignment with the laws.
The drafted NQF included article mentioning to the volume of learning, which is one credit is 48 hours of student workload.
The former credit definition in Laos has described into 3 types as below.

  • 1 credit is 16 hours of lecture
  • 1 credit is 32 hours of practices or laboratory, and
  • 1 credit is 48-96 hours of fields work

To follow the decree of NQF, MOES has refined the credit to unify all type of credits to be 48 hours of student workload as below.

  • 1 credit is 16 hours of lecture and 32 hours of self-study
  • 1 credit is 32 hours of practices or laboratory, and 16 hours of self-study
  • 1 credit is 48 hours of fields work
  • There is drafted guideline on writing the learning outcome and formulate the credit. However, these works need to re-check with the higher education law, NQF decree etc.
  • ESQAC has been preparing the ASEAN Qualifications Framework (AQRF) referencing report and planned to submit to ASEAN by 2021. With this approach, the Lao NQF will be recognized by ASEAN member states and aligning with regional framework.
  • Parallelly, ESQAC also drafted the Programme Quality Standards, which included the generic standards and indicators and specific common learning outcome to support higher education institutes.

 

 

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