A world-standard 310 billion VND (US$ 15.2 million) new recreation and events complex and student accommodation building were officially opened at RMIT International University today by Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP.
The Minister praised the facilities and the "vision and hard work" of RMIT in establishing a strong presence in Vietnam over the past 10 years.
Today's event was attended by dignitaries including Mr Do Quoc Anh, Director Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) office for Southern provinces, Mr Hua Ngoc Thuan, Vice Chairman, HCMC People's Committee, Mr Nguyen Tuan, Vice-Director, Department of External Relations, HCMC, Mr Nguyen Huu Hung , Vice Chairman of the District 7 People's Committee, and Mr Truong Van Lam, Director of the Management Authority for Southern Area Development of HCM City (MASD), Vice Directors and Deputy Directors from several other government agencies, the Australian Ambassador Mr Allaster Cox, and consuls-general from several countries.
Mr Rudd praised the achievements of the Vietnamese Government across a range of fields in recent decades, including rapid income growth, increased life expectancy, advances in education, greatly increased trade levels, and widespread access to communication technology.
"These are enormous achievements. They mean the Vietnam of today is vastly different to that of 36 years ago. They have set Vietnam on a potential trajectory to join the big economies of the world by mid century."
Vietnam and Australia would need to continue playing their parts to achieve regional cooperation in pursuit of stronger political, economic and security relations.
Mr Rudd said the young people of Vietnam would offer "enormous opportunity" for their country if their productive potential could be fully realised.
"And their young voices, like the youth of the world, will want their voices heard in an increasingly pluralist system where continuing human rights challenges will need to be addressed."
Mr Rudd praised the far-sightedness of Vietnamese authorities who had shown "the wisdom to invest in the skilling up of young Vietnamese students, including through international universities like this one".
RMIT University Vice Chancellor and President, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, came from Australia to host the proceedings.
Professor Gardner described RMIT, globally, as "one of the most internationalised universities in the world".
She said that being a truly global educator required more than just the delivery of education programs.
"Integrating internationalisation into all aspects of the university's teaching and research activities enables RMIT to deepen its engagement with the region and the world, producing graduates and researchers who are global in both outlook and action."
Professor Gardner praised Vietnamese authorities, the philanthropic support of Mr Chuck Feeney and his organisation The Atlantic Philanthropies, and Mr Rudd himself who had led an "unprecedented education revolution" under his political leadership in Australia.
More than 200 students, staff and VIP guests attended the opening ceremony, coming just three days after the presence on campus of American music legend Mr Bob Dylan who performed to around 5,000 people.
The Recreation and Events Complex (REC) and the new Residential Centre have been made possible with generous assistance from The Atlantic Philanthropies, founded by American entrepreneur and philanthropist Mr Chuck Feeney. Atlantic was represented by Country Manager and Program Executive, Dr Le Nhan Phuong.
Atlantic has given generous funding support to RMIT Vietnam over its first 10 years of operations in Vietnam.
Atlantic provided $6.5 Million towards the total cost of $15.2 million to build the "beautiful" recreation and accommodation facilities opened today, RMIT Vietnam President Professor Merilyn Liddell said.
"We are very proud to be operating these new facilities at Saigon South. At one time, university students in Vietnam would have had to go overseas to obtain access to this standard of support. It is great to be able to provide it for them here at our university in Vietnam."