Stakeholder perspectives on general competences: The case of graduates of Vietnam National University, Hanoi

  • Lan Thi Quynh Mai Vietnam National University Hanoi
Keywords: general competences, graduate employability, transferable skills, Tuning methodology, Vietnam National University Hanoi, stakeholders ratings


This research draws from theories of graduate employability and transferable skills and the TASE project’s 13 graduate competences model, to explore the evaluation of the various stakeholders concerning the degree to which VNU graduates have acquired general competences. The survey measured three variables: (i) importance, (ii) achievement and (iii) priority, using the four categories of ‘none’, ‘weak’, ‘considerable’, and ‘strong’. Between February and December 2018, a total of 818 informants agreed to participate, including 168 employers, 152 alumni, 189 students who had just graduated in 2018 or were about to graduate, 51 lecturers and university managers, and 258 students. The importance of the 13 general competences was rated more highly than graduate achievement. The ability to uphold professional, moral and ethical values was rated by VNU employers as of greatest importance and the highest achievement. Similarly, VNU students and alumni rated this ability as their highest achievement. The ability to conduct research and the ability to understand, value, and respect diversity and multiculturalism were rated as of lowest importance by VNU employers. The former (ability to conduct research) was rated as of lowest importance by VNU alumni and their lowest achievement by both VNU alumni and VNU students. VNU students rated the latter ability (to understand, value, and respect diversity and multiculturalism) as of least importance. The ability to initiate, plan, organise, implement and evaluate courses of action was rated the lowest achievement by VNU employers. The ability to apply knowledge in practice was considered of greatest importance by both VNU students and alumni, but for the latter group this ability ranked equally with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Students gave most of their own general competences a significantly lower rating than that given by employers to alumni achievement.

Received: 26 June 2019
Accepted: 13 March 2020
Published online: 19 May 2020

Author Biography

Lan Thi Quynh Mai, Vietnam National University Hanoi

Lan Thi Quynh Mai (, PhD in Sociology from the University of Queensland (Australia), works at the Institute for Education Quality Assurance, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, as the Head of the Department for Quality Assurance Research and Management.


Barrie, Simon Christopher. “Academics’ Understandings of Generic Graduate Attributes: A Conceptual Basis for Lifelong Learning.” In Graduate Attributes, Learning and Employability. Lifelong Learning, edited by Paul Hager and Susan Holland, Book Series, v. 6, 149-167. Dordrecht: Springer, 2006.

Barrie, Simon Christopher. “Understanding what we mean by the generic attributes of graduates.” Higher Education 51, no. 2 (2006): 215-41.

Beneitone, Pablo, and Edurne Bartolomé. “Global Generic Competences with Local Ownership: A Comparative Study from the Perspective of Graduates in Four World Regions.” Tuning Journal for Higher Education 1, no. 2 (2014): 303-334. Bennett, Roger. “Employers’ Demands for Personal Transferable Skills in Graduates: A Content Analysis of 1000 Job Advertisements and an Associated Empirical Study.” Journal of Vocational Education and Training 54, no. 4 (2002): 457-76.

Bennett, Neville, Elisabeth Dunne, and Clive Carré. Skills Development in Higher Education and Employment. Florence: Taylor & Francis, Inc., 2000.

Bodewig, Christian, and Reena Badiani-Magnusson. Skilling up Vietnam: Preparing the Workforce for a Modern Market Economy. World Bank, 2014. Accessed May 5, 2019.

Crosling, Glenda, and Ian Ward. “Oral Communication: The Workplace Needs and Uses of Business Graduate Employees.” English for Specific Purposes 21, no. 1 (2002): 41-57.

Davies, Howard. “Competence-based Curricula in the Context of Bologna and EU Higher Education Policy.” Pharmacy 5, no. 2 (2017), 17: 64-75.

ECTS Users’ Guide. Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2019.

Eraut, Michael. “Transfer of Knowledge between Education and Workplace Settings.” In Workplace Learning in Context, edited by Helen Rainbird, Alison Fuller and Anne Munro, 201-221. London: Routledge, 2004.

European Parliament and European Council. “Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning.” Official Journal of the European Union 51, no. C 111 (2008): 1-7.

Fallows, Stephen, and Christine Steven. “The Skills Agenda.” In Integrating Key Skills in Higher Education: Employability, Transferable Skills and Learning for Life, edited by Stephen Fallows and Christine Steven, 3-12. London: Kogan Page, 2000.

Haigh, Martin J., and Marianne P. Kilmartin. “Student perceptions of the development of personal transferable skills.” Journal of Geography in Higher Education 23, no.2 (1999): 195-206. .

Harvey, Lee, Sue Moon, Vicki Geall, and Ray Bower. Graduates’ Work: Organisational Change and Students’ Attributes. Birmingham: Centre for Research into Quality, 1997.

Hernández-March, Julio, Mónica Martín Del Peso, and Santiago Leguey. “Graduates’ Skills and Higher Education: The Employers’ Perspective.” Tertiary Education and Management 15, no. 1 (2009): 1-16.

Knight, Peter T., and Mantz Yorke. “Employability through the Curriculum.” Tertiary Education and Management 8, no. 4 (2002): 261-76.

Lowden, Kevin, Stuart Hall, Dely Elliot, and Jon Lewin. Employers’ Perceptions of the Employability Skills of New Graduates. London: Edge Foundation, 2011.

Maclean, Rupert, and Victor Ordonez. “Work, Skills Development for Employability and Education for Sustainable Development.” Educational Research for Policy and Practice 6, no. 2 (2007): 123-40.

Mourshed, Mona, Diana Farrell, and Dominic Barton. Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works. McKinsey Center for Government, 2012. Accessed October 17, 2019.

Sánchez, Aurelio Villa and Manuel Poblete Ruiz, eds. Competence-based Learning: A Proposal for the Assessment of Generic Competences. University of Deusto, 2008.

Schomburg, Harald, and Ulrich Teichler. Higher Education and Graduate Employment in Europe , 2007.

Stephenson, John. “The Concept of Capability and Its Importance in Higher Education,” In Capability and Quality in Higher Education, edited by John Stephenson and Mantz Yorke, 1-13. London: Kogan Page, 1998.

Suleman, Fátima. “Employability Skills of Higher Education Graduates: Little Consensus on a Much-discussed Subject.” Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences 228 (2016): 169-74.

Trung, Tran Quang, and Fredric William Swierczek. “Skills Development in Higher Education in Vietnam.” Asia Pacific Business Review 15, no. 4 (2009): 565-86.

Tuning Academy. “Tuning Asia – South East, Second Meeting Report.” Unpublished document, Tuning Academy, University of Deusto, 2017.

Tuning Education Structures in Europe. Accessed October 17, 2019.

World Bank. Vietnam - Higher Education and Skills for Growth. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2008. Accessed October 17, 2019.

Yorke, Mantz, and Lee Harvey. “Graduate Attributes and their Development.” New Directions for Institutional Research 2005, no. 128 (2005): 41-58.

How to Cite
Mai, Lan Thi Quynh. 2020. “Stakeholder Perspectives on General Competences: The Case of Graduates of Vietnam National University, Hanoi”. Tuning Journal for Higher Education 7 (2), 91-139.