Record # of Visas Issued to US-Bound VN Students in FY14

Posted 19/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Updates

Tags: , , ,

us visasIn fiscal year (FY) 2014, US Mission Vietnam, i.e., the Embassy in Hanoi and the Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, issued a record 14,822 student (F-1) visas to Vietnamese students, according to the US State Department’s annual report (204 KB PDF download). This is the largest ever one-year numerical increase for Vietnam while the percentage increase is the third highest ever (36.4%) after FY07-08 (49.8%) and FY05-06 (117.6%).

student visa graph

student visa stats

number 7Based on current enrollment trends, as reported in the February 2015 SEVIS by the Numbers update in which Vietnam ranks 7th among all places of origin with 25,982 students at all levels, surpassing Taiwan (23,503) and on the verge of displacing Japan (26,187), student visa issuances are on track to set yet another record in FY15.


Of Letters of Recommendation, Smoke & Mirrors

Posted 18/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: , , ,

common app logo

I’ve written quite a bit about gaming the system here because it’s such a common occurrence in US higher education admission among many international students in Vietnam and elsewhere.  Why take the long way home when you can take a shortcut, right?  Improve your chances, use your God-given intelligence and ingenuity, keep your ear to the ground and walk through those whale-sized loopholes.

Yet another example is the Common Application, known as the Common App, a not-for-profit membership organization that serves students, member institutions, and secondary schools by providing applications that students and school officials may submit to any of its over 500 members.  As the website points out, “membership is open to colleges and universities that promote access by evaluating students using a holistic selection process.”

Is the system secure?  Yes, in that individual student, referee and institutional accounts are secure.  Is it subject to fraud?  In other words, can it be gamed?  In a word, absolutely.  All it takes is some patience and an efficient record keeping system.  Hard to get a teacher letter of recommendation?  No problem – draft your own (or have your unscrupulous agent do it for you for an additional fee), create her/his own web-based email account and pretend to be your teacher!  Hint:  Be careful how to word your letter so as to avoid duplication and possible detection.  Will it work in most cases?  Yes, because most admission officers just don’t have the time to check on the authenticity of your letters.

Why game the system?  Not to gain admission to your school of choice, especially if you’re a “talented and gifted” student, but to obtain a more generous scholarship package.  With a minimal investment of elbow grease and admission sleight of hand the ROI can be impressive.

smoke and mirrorsThis is just another step in crafting custom-designed applications to the US colleges and universities and giving admission committees exactly what they want, even if it doesn’t exactly reflect reality.  The solution, i.e., how to fight back?  Spot check letters and/or develop software (or use an existing system) that allows admission offices to compare letters and email accounts, especially for students applying from the same countries.  It’s a piece of cake.  Jump on the bandwagon.  Fight fraud with technology.


International Recruitment Tools and Techniques: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Posted 15/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Conferences

Tags: , , , ,

ac15_homepagehighlight_224x116I’m looking forward to participating in a general session of interest to colleagues involved in international student recruitment entitled International Recruitment Tools and Techniques: One Size Doesn’t Fit All. This session is part of the Practitioner Toolbox Track.

Session Description With the demographic downturn in the United States and increased competition for international students, growing numbers of institutions are recruiting internationally. This session, rooted in the realization that each school is different in terms of staffing and budget, provides an overview of best practices related to international recruitment.

Chair & Presenter(s):

Judy Irwin

Managing Director, Connect Globally, Rockville, Maryland


Mark A. Ashwill, PhD

Managing Director, Capstone Vietnam, Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam

Mark Hallett, M.S.

Senior Director, International Student & Scholar Services, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado

Jennifer Falzerano, M.Ed

Director of International Programs, Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon

Follow these links for more session information and to visit the session blog.

Whether or not you’re planning to attend the NAFSA annual conference and our session, I would like to request your assistance in sharing some information about your international recruitment activities by completing a short 10-question survey.  If we receive enough responses, we’ll share the information at the session and on the session blog.  Thanks!



An American Math Center Sets Up Shop in Vietnam

Posted 14/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Commentary, Updates

Tags: , , ,

Welcome to Mathnasium—your neighborhood math-only learning center that teaches kids math the way that makes sense to them. Our experienced math tutors utilize our proprietary teaching materials and techniques, The Mathnasium Method™, to deliver a customized learning plan designed to address each student’s needs, whether they started out far behind or are already ahead in math. Our instruction approach goes beyond traditional math tutoring to develop understanding and build a love for math. (Source:

logomathnasium800 resizedIn addition to McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin’ Donuts  and KFC, Vietnam now has Mathnasium, a franchise with a healthier and more practical product on its menu, math tutoring.  Mathnasium has certainly entered the market at the right time with the convergence of several key factors, all of which are good for business:  the high value placed on education, a significant percentage of “tiger parents,” an exam-driven educational system and a growing ability to pay.  Mathnasium’s US origin is a key selling point in its marketing.  USA is synonymous with quality, right?

There are now more than 450 locations worldwide, with two new centers opening each week, according to the company’s website.  In addition to the US and Canada, there are Mathnasium centers in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Jordan, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.    Mathnasium Vietnam began operating in HCMC in March 2011 and there are now 28 centers in all regions of the country.

Having some familiarity with the US educational system and the usually less than stellar performance of US students on international assessments in math and science such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), it’s an example of do as we say, not as we do – in general.  In the latest (2012) PISA the US placed a mediocre 35th out of 64 countries in math, and a lackluster 27th in science, both well below Vietnam.  (Among its peer OECD countries, all 34 of them, the US ranked a dismal 27th in math and 20th in science, also nothing to write home about.


Both the US and Vietnam offer a fertile business environment for centers like Mathnasium for different reasons.  In the case of the latter, it is because of acute need for quality math tutoring services; for the former, it is parents’ association of quality with a new US proprietary center and the chance that their children will receive an even better education at an affordable price.  Think of as the best of two very different worlds.

A Mathnasium center in Hanoi.

A Mathnasium center in Hanoi.

Teaching and tutoring math are obviously an example of doing well and doing good.  Entrepreneur Magazine ranked  Mathnasium #86 in its Fast 500 last year, outperforming other tutoring companies such as Tutor Doctor (#156) and Huntington Learning Centers (#301).  In Vietnam it will be interesting to see how centers like Mathnasium stack up against their competition, mainly some homegrown centers and math teachers who tutor students as a potentially lucrative means of supplementing their meager salary.  Ultimately, it is word-of-mouth advertising that will ensure Mathnasium’s success (or not).  So far, so good!


The First Study in the USA Blogger & Vlogger Contest

Posted 12/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Announcement

Tags: , ,

Made in Vietnam, Study in the USA

study in the usa logoStudy in the USA, a famous Seattle, Washington-based company, which began with the simple mission of providing helpful information about U.S. colleges and universities to international students and connecting them with reputable programs in the USA, is looking for its very first Study in the USA Blogger/Vlogger in Vietnam.

There’s already plenty of information and advice from experts; what’s needed is more first-hand information and a sharing of personal experience and insights.  The purpose of the nationwide Made in Vietnam, Study in the USA contest, launched in cooperation with Capstone Vietnam, a well-known human resource development company, is to find an outstanding US-bound Vietnamese student who writes and speaks well, has interesting stories to tell and is willing to make a commitment of at least one year.  Other requirements are as follows:

  • 18 years or older by this summer
  • Must be preparing to study in the U.S. this fall
  • Must be passionate about sharing your experiences with others who are planning to follow in your footsteps

The Study in the USA blogger/vlogger will create one post each week alternating between written posts and 1-minute videos. The benefits include great writing and vlogging experience, a new item for your resume, widespread exposure and recognition for your work and a modest stipend.

Photo courtesy of Study in the USA

Photo courtesy of Study in the USA

Do YOU have what it takes to become the first Study in the USA blogger – vlogger? If you think you do, send the following information about yourself, including your name, age, high school US college or university, along with a 500-word post in Vietnamese and English about a Study in the USA-related topic and a 1-minute video about a different Study in the USA-related topic, to this email address: The submission deadline is 15 June 2015.  Study in the USA colleagues will select the winner from among the best entries.

About Study in the USA

After 35 years, Study in the USA® multilingual international admissions magazines and remain valued resources among international students and respected by top U.S. programs. The U.S. education system may be as foreign as the language and equally complex. Study in the USA® gives you access to articles explaining everything from GPA to transferring to academic credits.

About Capstone Vietnam

Capstone Vietnam, whose slogan is Reaching New Heights, is a full-service educational consulting company founded in 2009.  Capstone works exclusively with regionally accredited colleges and universities in the US, the gold standard of accreditation, and officially accredited institutions in other countries.

Disclosure:  I work for Capstone Vietnam, a proud Study in the USA partner.



Vietnam’s Stock Continues to Rise…

Posted 12/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Articles

Tags: , , , , ,

 in the World of U.S. International Student Recruitment

nafsa logoLet me begin with the end of an article I wrote for the NAFSA International Enrollment Management (IEM) e-newsletter.  If you’re interested in reading the piece in its entirety, follow this link.

A Look Ahead

Vietnamese students gathering information about US higher education.

Vietnamese students gathering info about US higher education education.

Vietnam is a country on the move. Daunting obstacles have been overcome and suffering redeemed. Phenomenal progress has been achieved with new summits yet to be conquered. Vietnam’s greatest resource is its people—hardworking, motivated, always in search of ways to improve their lives through education and training. How can your institution benefit from incorporating Vietnam into its internationalization strategy? What contributions can you make to help take Vietnam to the next level under the rubric of global service and in the spirit of doing well and doing good? Given the increasing number of Vietnamese returning home and the landmark contributions they are making in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors, to the benefit of themselves, their families, and their country, as well as the significant contributions of those who make the very personal decision to remain abroad, student recruitment is one such area.


Top Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment

Posted 10/05/2015 by maavn
Categories: Articles, Research, Survey, Updates

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Below are some excerpts from this World Education Services (WES) follow-up study to a 2012 research report that identifies key emerging markets for international student recruitment through 2018 and seeks to inform higher education institutions’ strategic planning by giving them a deeper understanding of future international student recruitment markets.

This report addresses two main questions:

  1. Beyond the traditional markets (China, India, and South Korea), what are likely to be the top four emerging markets for recruiting international students in the next three years, and what exactly makes these promising recruitment markets?
  2. What are the most effective strategies and practices for recruiting international students from these emerging markets?


In order of importance, survey respondents to the WES survey identified Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Nigeria as the top four emerging markets to watch over the next three years. In the past five years, these countries have shown substantial increases in the number of students studying in the U.S., alongside stable economic growth.

As identified in WES’ previous Emerging Markets report, Vietnam is and remains an important recruitment market, with outbound mobility growing significantly over the past 13 years. In 2013/14, there were 16,579 Vietnamese students studying in the U.S., making Vietnam the eighth-ranked nation among all sending countries. With steady growth in both the number of students arriving from Vietnam and also in the size of the country’s economy, Vietnam looks set to continue as a strong growth market. Vietnam’s economic growth will also enable parents from its growing middle class to send their children to study in the U.S. at a younger age. An increasing pool of Vietnamese secondary-school graduates in the U.S. also represents an emerging and significant recruitment channel for HEIs.


Note:  The US is once again the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students with nearly 26,000, as of February 2015, mostly at the postsecondary level.  Australia is second with 17,993 Vietnamese students at all levels.  Vietnam ranks 7th among all sending countries using the same type of data from SEVIS (DHS), having surpassed Taiwan and is about to overtake Japan.



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