Few people think Professor Le Van Cuong is living in France because in recent years he has been spending most of his time in Vietnam. In addition to his work in France, his active participation in intellectual contribution activities in his hometown is still his greatest passion.
Professor Cuong Le-Van (left) was awarded the medal “For the cause of education” in 2013.
Professor Le Van Cuong was born in 1946 in Thua Thien Hue and then later moved with his family to Saigon. As a child in Saigon, he studied at the Lasan Taberd School under the French program. Finishing high school, he went on to France to study preparatory classes and then graduated as an engineer at the Nancy School of Mines in 1969. After graduation, he worked for a while on geological hydrology at the Paris School of Mines. But he soon realized that it was not something he loved. In 1973, he decided to work on applied macroeconomic models at the GAMA Center at Paris X University and the National Center for Scientific Research France (CNRS). Here, he found that these models lacked a theoretical background and so he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in applied maths in economics at the University of Paris IX Dauphine in 1978. In 1981, he became a researcher in the field of economics at CNRS and reached the highest level in CNRS research. He holds a number of positions in scientific management at French science centers including Deputy Director of the Center for Studies in Mathematics, Statistics and the Economics of Mathematics (CERMSEM), Director of the Sorbonne Economic Center (CES). When asked about the secret of success in his career, Prof. Le Van Cuong said “it is simply a passion for research”. This passion, along with the teaching work, has taken up most of his life. After retiring to become Professor Emeritus, he continued to work at the Sorbonne Economic Center (CES), the Paris School of Economics, Paris I University and CNRS. In order to better integrate in the host country , he shared an experience: “Living in a society, if there is interest, there will be obligations. We should not live in a community and consider ourselves not a part of that society”. Despite being very successful in France but Professor Le Van Cuong concerns are always with Vietnam. He said that “there are many poor and young people in Vietnam who have potential and aspirations but are not able to grow because of difficult living conditions and lack of proper education”. Thus, he feels himself obliged to share the knowledge gained through teaching and research in Vietnam. In fact, Professor Le Van Cuong has abandoned valuable teaching offers in the UK, Japan to spend time in Vietnam to set up a training center called Vietnam Center of Research in Economics, Environment and Management (VCREME). What he wants is the realization of the dream of “Vietnamese people educate Vietnamese economists” through his Pre-Master or Pre-PhD programmes. The objective of these courses is to help students acquire knowledge in economics, mathematics and econometrics so that they can undertake successfully masters and doctoral degrees abroad. According to Professor Cuong Le-Van’s evaluation, most Vietnamese students are very keen to learn. This is the strength for children to develop their talents as well as improve their knowledge abroad. Thanks to his reputation, there are more than 20 professors and lecturers in many countries such as USA, UK, France, Singapore, Australia are coming to teach at VCREME. Especially, after finishing the course, he is also a very dedicated person to write sincere and thoughtful letters introducing the students to the university that they dreamed. Professor Cuong Le-Van found quite a lot of barriers for oversea Vietnamese people to contribute their intellectuals back to the homeland. According to him, there is an huge gap of knowledge between Vietnamese and Vietnamese who are abroad, which makes reseaching together very difficult. In addition, he feels that the establishment of an economics university based on international standards in Vietnam meets many obstacles. Vietnam needs to learn from international experience on this issue, such as China, which has built some high-quality economics universities in Wuhan, Shanghai, and Beijing. It is important to see education as a key to moving the country forward and to have the appropriate mechanism to implement this determination.