University’s student height requirement sparks outrage

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The School of Management and Business (HSB) at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi has sparked controversy with its recent admission policy, which ties student eligibility to height.

The school has announced that female students must be at least 1.58 meters tall and male students at least 1.65 meters to be considered for admission this year, with exceptions allowed in some cases.

Public Backlash

The announcement, first reported by the Vietnamese online newspaper Tuoi Tre, has ignited heated debates on social media. Critics argue that the policy is discriminatory and baseless.

The Ministry of Education responded on June 6 by directing the university to review these requirements.

Following this directive, HSB adjusted its admission criteria, removing the height requirement for three of its four undergraduate programmes.

The rule now only applies to the Management and Security course. HSB has not responded to requests for comment.

HSB defends its selection criterion by emphasizing its goal of training future leaders and excellent managers for both the public and private sectors.

The school argues that height is a decisive factor, particularly when it comes to leadership and self-confidence.

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The Link Between Height and Self-Confidence

Social psychologist Andrea Abele-Brehm from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany told DW that there is a connection between height and self-confidence, but it is “relatively small and ambiguous.”

Numerous studies from the US, Europe, and East Asia have shown that extreme deviations from average height can impact self-confidence, but the effect is negligible for people of average height.

Average versus extreme heights

According to Vietnam’s National Institute of Nutrition, the average height in Vietnam is 1.56 meters for women and 1.68 meters for men.

Based on standard deviation, women between 1.5 and 1.65 meters and men between 1.61 and 1.75 meters are considered to be of “normal” height.

This means HSB’s height requirement discriminates against a significant portion of Vietnam’s average-height population.

Height and wealth

Research has shown that taller individuals often enjoy economic advantages due to mistaken social perceptions that they are more competent or assertive.

Abele-Brehm argues that educational institutions have a responsibility to combat such stereotypes and contribute to societal progress.

“You have to tackle such stereotypes, as otherwise the institution will only reinforce them,” she said.

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The introduction of height as a criterion for admission at HSB contradicts the university’s goal of educating students guided by science and reason.

The policy has been widely criticized for its discriminatory nature and lack of scientific basis, leading to calls for its complete removal.

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