Happy U.S. Thanksgiving!

Posted 26/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Events


happy thanksgiving fb cover

“Advanced degrees not a guarantee of employment in Vietnam”

Posted 24/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: , , ,

Vietnam had 10.7 million trained workers (who have short-term training certificates, finish intermediate school, junior college and have bachelor’s and master’s degrees) which accounted for 20 percent of the labor force. Of these, 4.47 million have a higher education level.

Courtesy of VietnamNet Bridge

Courtesy of VietnamNet Bridge

Like many other countries, including the US, Vietnam is afflicted with the disease of credentialism.  A bachelor’s degree or higher means more and better job opportunities, right?  According to a recent VietnamNet Bridge article, based on information from the Vietnam Labor & Social Studies Institute, unemployment is rising among those with four-year undergraduate and graduate degrees because of oversupply while it’s decreasing among graduates of junior (3-year, i.e., vocational) colleges.  Vietnam’s economy, of course, needs more workers with a quality vocational credential.  Not as much prestige, mind you, but a better chance of finding a job.

Here’s an excerpt from the article with a quote from Nguyen Tung Lam, a well-known educator and chair of the Hanoi Education Psychology Association, about the four reasons for the rising unemployment rate among workers with higher education.

  1.  University graduates did not choose the majors that match with their capabilities and interest.  As a result, they did not pay enough attention and could not obtain the necessary working skills before graduation.
  2. Schools with low training capability cannot produce qualified workers.
  3. A substandard educational system that is not at the level of “international standards.”
  4. Fourth, MoET (Ministry of Education and Training) only controls schools’ operation and training quality on paper, while it does not know what happens in reality.

Once consequence of this overproduction of university graduates is that Vietnam may have to import skilled workers, according to Van Nhu Cuong, president of Luong The Vinh High School.

One problem related to the first point is the lack of career counseling and students studying what their parents want them to study rather than what they’re good at and have an interest in.  Another is a lack of information about the relationship between their chosen field of study and future career prospects.

This also applies to overseas-educated Vietnamese, some of whom have difficulty finding a suitable position back home because they did not take full advantage of the opportunities afforded them in terms of academics, extracurricular activities, internships and language (e.g., some Vietnamese who study overseas do not benefit linguistically from an immersion experience because they live in a Vietnamese community).  An overseas is a point of departure in any job interview not a deciding factor.


Chúc mừng ngày Nhà giáo Việt Nam 20/11! Happy Vietnamese Teachers’ Day!

Posted 20/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Events


teachers day2

teachers singingsinger

Mapping SEVIS By the Numbers

Posted 18/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary, Updates

Tags: ,

Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers

This interactive map would be a great resource if it were accurate.  According to the August 2015 SEVIS by the Numbers update, there were 24,288 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels, i.e., secondary and postsecondary, but mainly the latter.  I seriously doubt that the number plummeted to 11,378 active students in one month.

I also question the numbers in various states.  For example, according to the interactive map there are 4,412 Vietnamese students in Florida, 1,120 in Texas, 610 in California and 69 (!) in Washington.  There are individual institutions in WA that have 100-200 Vietnamese students. Texas hosted nearly 4,000 Vietnamese students last year, 21% of the national total.

I also question the “Additional Information on Students from Vietnam”, especially the education level breakdown.

Additional Information for Students from Vietnam

I look forward to seeing the corrections but won’t hold my breath.  Moral of the story:  don’t believe everything you  read and click on.  Trust, but verify!



Open Doors 2015: More Double-Digit Increases for Vietnam!

Posted 16/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Reports

Tags: , , ,

BT-Open-Doors-2015Yes, dear readers, it’s that time of year again – time for Open Doors 2015!  For the uninitiated – the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is an annual international academic mobility report published by the Institute of International Education with a grant from the US State Department.

Below is a list of top 10 sending countries in the 2014/15 academic year.  Keep in mind that this information is based on a survey distributed last fall (2014) semester, i.e., it’s already a year old. Vietnam (PDF download) had one of the higher year-over-year percentage increases among the top 25 places of origin at 12.9%.  In reality, there were 24,288 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels, nearly 90% in higher education, as of July 2015, according to the August 2015 SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update (PDF download).  Vietnam actually ranks 7th, having surpassed Taiwan, and is on the verge of overtaking Japan.

Rank Place of Origin 2013/14 2014/15 % of Total % Change
WORLD TOTAL 886,052 974,926 100.0 10.0
1 China 274,439 304,040 31.2 10.8
2 India 102,673 132,888 13.6 29.4
3 South Korea 68,047 63,710 6.5 -6.4
4 Saudi Arabia 53,919 59,945 6.1 11.2
5 Canada 28,304 27,240 2.8 -3.8
6 Brazil 13,286 23,675 2.4 78.2
7 Taiwan 21,266 20,993 2.2 -1.3
8 Japan 19,334 19,064 2.0 -1.4
9 Vietnam 16,579 18,722 1.9 12.9
10 Mexico 14,779 17,052 1.7 15.4

Fields of Study & Vietnam

2014-15 Places of Origin & Fields of Studyvietnam fields of study

Academic Level & Vietnam

As expected, there is a decrease in the percentage of Vietnamese students choosing business/management as their major, a positive development, in my opinion.

level and place of origin 2015vietnam level and place of origin

There are some notable changes in academic levels:

  • a 100% increase in the number of non-degree students, e.g., ESL, certificate programs
  • a 26% increase in the number of OPT students

Community Colleges & Vietnamese Students

Rank Place of Origin % of Enrollment
1 China 17.7
2 South Korea 8.9
3 Vietnam 8.4

Vietnam remains in 3rd place with 7,698 students enrolled in a community college, most with plans to complete their Bachelor’s degree at a four-year school.  (That’s 8.4% of the total international enrollment at US community colleges last year, which was 91,448.)  That translates into a one-year increase of 15.4%, from 6,509 to 7,698 students.

A note about Brazil’s short-lived ascendancy.  This 11.11.15 ICEF Monitor article details the impact of the current economic crisis in Brazil on overseas study.  Here are the highlights:

  • Brazil is in the grip of an economic crisis that has pressured consumer spending and weakened the Brazilian currency
  • This in turn has made it much more expensive for Brazilians to travel or study abroad
  • The expectation is that the market will decline this year but there are surprising and important areas of demand, particularly in the form of students who are committed to improving their skills for better employment prospects
  • Demand is also shifting to more affordable English-speaking destinations, notably Malta, South Africa, and Ireland


Happy 6th Anniversary, International Educator in Vietnam!

Posted 16/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Events

Tags: , , , ,

6 Years of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue!  6 Years of Relative Freedom of Speech!


Vietnam Ranks 29th in Annual EF English Proficiency Index & 5th in Asia

Posted 13/11/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary, Survey

Tags: , , , , , , ,
 Vietnam is among the top performers in the region, ahead of Japan and China. Graphic: EF

Vietnam is among the top performers in the region, ahead of Japan and China. Graphic: EF

EF logoHere’s some more good news for Vietnam and colleagues from English-speaking countries who recruit here at the secondary and postsecondary levels.  According to the results of the EF (Education First) Proficiency Index, which profiles 70 countries, including 15 in Asia, Vietnam ranks 29th with “moderate proficiency” in English.  Last year, it ranked 33rd out of 63 non-native English-speaking countries.  Among Asian countries, Vietnam ranked higher than Cambodia, China, Japan and Thailand.  This will come as no surprise to those who have visited those countries or worked with their students.  For example, when you walk into a department store in Bangkok in what has been a middle-income country for quite some time – with many more socio-economic advantages than Vietnam – the staff will usually scramble to find the one person who can communicate in passable to good English with foreign customers.

Here are a couple of interesting findings from the Vietnam survey:

  • As in most countries, women speak better English than men.
  • Adults in Hanoi are somewhat more proficient in English than those in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

As the survey points out, research shows that better English correlates with higher income and better quality of life.  Since English is an international language, it also allows its speakers to tap into an international network of information and knowledge, as well as develop relationships with an estimated half a billion people whose native language is English or who speak it as a foreign language.

Why is Vietnam making so much progress so quickly?  The sheer number of number of young people, including children, who are studying English, the growing ability to pay for instruction at proprietary centers, combined with opportunities to practice English, the result of Vietnam’s integration into the global economy.

These impressive increases in the English proficiency of growing numbers of Vietnamese bode well for the country’s development, as well as the career prospects of those who are able to communicate in this important language.

If you want to read the “Monarch notes” version of the results, check out this article.  The original report can be found here.



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