English to be second language in Vietnam HE (The PIE News)

Posted 28/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Updates

Tags: , , , ,

Educational institutions in Vietnam have been directed to implement English as a second language on campus, it has been announced, which could increase student mobility and international collaborations with the country.

I was recently interviewed by The PIE News, an industry newsletter for professionals in international education, about a new initiative in Viet Nam involving the use of English as a second language at 61 institutions that was recently announced by Dr. Phung Xuan Nha, the new minister of education and training.

Here’s a choice excerpt that will hopefully whet your appetite for more:

Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), told The PIE News that the new regulation is a “bold move”.

“It sends a very strong signal that English proficiency is important for Vietnam, its ongoing integration into the global community, and its long-term sustainable development.”

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.


The PIE Insider: Viet Nam

Posted 26/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Updates

Tags: , , ,

pie news logo

Since many of the facts and figures in this Viet Nam update are outdated, below is my (more up-to-date) information, where necessary and available, including sources and some comments.


youth population breakdown (revised)

Youth Population Breakdown (2015):  This up-to-date information is from the CIA World Factbook for Viet Nam.

Adjusted PCI

Adjusted National PCI (2014):  The most up-to-date information from the World Bank is $2,111.10 (for 2015).


GDP PPP PCI (2014):  A more recent figure, which reflects how rapidly the economy is growing and therefore the ability to pay for big ticket items like overseas study, is $6,000 (2015), from the CIA World Factbook – Viet Nam

mobile tertiary

Number of Internationally Mobile Tertiary Students (2013):  There is more up-to-date information.  For example, there are nearly 110,000 Vietnamese students in the top 5 host countries alone, including Japan, the USA, Australia, China, and Singapore – in descending order. Even in 2013, there were an estimated 125,000 Vietnamese studying overseas in 49 countries and territories, and that was a low estimate, in my opinion.  

top 10

Top 10 destinations (2013): The numbers are old.  The most recent top ten list would look more like this:  Japan, USA, Australia, China, Singapore, the UK, France, Russia, Germany, and Canada.  

Student weeks in ELT (2014):   Isn’t there anything more up-to-date?  This market segment is changing rapidly.  As of 3/16, 11.9% of all Vietnamese students (3458) in the US were enrolled in “language training” programs.


K-12 students abroad (2013):  The numbers are old.  For examples, there were 3715 Vietnamese students enrolled in US secondary (3537/12.2% of 29101) and primary (178/.6%) school as of March 2016 and 1731 in Australian schools as of May 2016.  That’s a total of 5442 in those two countries alone. 

K-12 students by destination (2013):  Probably similar three years later.

top agencies

Government-Certified Education Agencies:   This is based on the number of Vietnamese students these companies send overseas.  The data are self-reported, which casts doubt on their accuracy.  One additional point is that education agents are no longer certified in Viet Nam as of 1 July 2016.  The Ministry of Education and Training rescinded the policy approved in 2013 by the Prime Minister.

higher ed institutions

Number of Domestic Higher Education Providers (2012/13):  This figure is correct, more or less. 


Percentage of Vietnamese Students Abroad Who Are Self-Funded:  I don’t have up-to-date information but suspect this is still correct, based on my experience and from what I’ve read.  This is the figure used by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Finance.


Happy Planet Index: Viet Nam Ranks 5th Overall & 2nd in Asia Pacific

Posted 22/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Survey

Tags: , ,

Vietnam ranks fifth in the Happy Planet Index results, and second in the Asia Pacific region. This Southeast Asian country, characterised by its mountains and tropical forests, has a strikingly low Ecological Footprint and economic output per head almost 24 times smaller than nearby Hong Kong. Vietnam is one of just three countries in the top ten Happy Planet Index rankings with an Ecological Footprint that is small enough to be considered environmentally sustainable.

The Happy Planet Index measures what matters: sustainable well-being for all. It tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives.

static1.squarespace.comWealthy Western countries, often seen as the standard of success, do not rank highly on the Happy Planet Index (HPI).  Instead, several countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region lead the way by achieving high life expectancy and well-being with much smaller Ecological Footprints.

The Happy Planet Index provides a compass to guide nations, and shows that it is possible to live good lives without costing the Earth.

Source:  About the HPI

Follow this link to read the entire Viet Nam report.


Buyer beware – Advice for international students

Posted 18/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Articles, Commentary

Tags: , , ,

UWN masthead

Below is an excerpt from an article I wrote about a certain type of Vietnamese student who is interested in overseas study.  It applies to students in other countries as well.  Follow this link to read the 15 July 2016 University World News article in its entirety. A Vietnamese version was published last month in VietNamNetTiến sĩ mách nước du học không mất 15.000 đô tư vấn


One of the morals of Tue’s story is that students can save their parents hard-earned money and their precious time by not engaging the services of one of these educational consulting companies.

Why? Because they are extremely bright, highly motivated and are already tapped into the appropriate networks, online and offline, which have the potential of taking them where they want to go. They are also able to access a wealth of information online and from peers currently studying in the US and other countries.

Doing it ‘their way’ also ensures that their applications will be honest and authentic, qualities on which admission committees, which operate in a sea of disingenuity and tweaked applications, place great value.

Who should use an education agent?

Those who need guidance and advice that will help them navigate a higher education system as vast and complex as that of the United States, for example.

“Regulators Vote to Shut Down Nation’s Largest For-Profit Accrediting Agency”

Posted 14/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Articles, Commentary

Tags: , , , , , ,

The vote came after widespread criticism that the agency had provided inadequate oversight. 

ACICS logoSome good news for a change. “Inadequate oversight” is one way of  putting it.  This organization, which was entrusted with the sacred task of accrediting postsecondary institutions, abdicated its responsibility in a number of cases, pure and simple.  Why is the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), the largest for-profit accreditor in the US, going the way of the dinosaur?  Because someone with power, someone in an official capacity, was finally on to them.  How?  Because of the outstanding work of two investigative reporters from BuzzFeed.  (See the two articles below.)  I’ve been writing about bottom feeder nationally accredited institutions and the lack of oversight for years but I was just a lone voice in the higher education wilderness.

Making The Grades
How one California university faked students’ scores, skated by immigration authorities — and made a fortune in the process. (5/16)

These Obscure Colleges Sign Up Thousands Of Foreign Students With Little Oversight
The little-known Northwestern Polytechnic University now enrolls more international students than almost any other U.S. college. (1/16)

Regulators Vote to Shut Down Nation’s Largest For-Profit Accrediting Agency

In a huge victory for opponents of for-profit schools, a federal panel voted Thursday to shut down the largest accrediting agency of private sector colleges and universities amid intense criticism in recent years for loose oversight of educational institutions.

The 10-3 decision, handed down Thursday by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, effectively eliminates access to federal financial aid to hundreds of schools accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools that enroll nearly 800,000 students.

To read the article in its entirety, feast your eyes here.

Perhaps there will be some future posts about the ripple effect of this historic vote to shut down ACICS, including the impact on entities that represent “officially accredited” US colleges and universities, i.e., EducationUSA, and those that allow their certified agents to work with these institutions, e.g., the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). Stay tuned!

I won’t say “I told you so” just a heartfelt and hearty “Farewell, ACICS!”  Many of us in the know won’t miss you.  It’s high time for whatever replaces you and many of your accredited institutions to take their game to the next level, or become irrelevant.


Bob Kerrey & Fulbright University Viet Nam

Posted 11/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Commentary

Tags: , ,

Bob Kerrey’s appointment as chair of the board of trustees of Fulbright University Vietnam has raised questions due to Kerrey’s past war record, and risks tainting the whole project.

kerrey UWN

“One simply cannot engage in barbarous action without becoming a barbarian… one cannot defend human values by calculated and unprovoked violence without doing mortal damage to the values one is trying to defend.” – J William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power.

Imagine, for a moment, what would happen if a foreign university in the United States appointed an individual who had killed US civilians – or anyone, for that matter – to serve as chair of its board of trustees?

Or this post-World War II European example from David Marr, a US American historian of modern Viet Nam and Australian National University professor emeritus: “If the post-war West German government had selected a former German army officer who had killed (or ordered the killing of) unarmed French civilians to head the Goethe Institute in Paris, do you think the French government would have accepted this? Going back one step, would Bonn ever have selected such a person in the first place?”

Would the reaction be ‘forgive and forget’, or outrage that the university or government and its supporters could be so blind, so insensitive, so short-sighted as to select someone with such a dark past to assume such a key position?

What about a former Navy SEAL who admitted to being involved in the cold-blooded murder of a score of Vietnamese civilians in early 1969 in the Mekong Delta?

Follow this link to read the rest of this University World News article.


“Extraordinary” Educational Achievements in Viet Nam

Posted 08/07/2016 by maavn
Categories: Research

Tags: , ,

Vietnam’s achievements in primary and secondary education over the last two decades are extraordinary. Out of 65 countries, Vietnam ranked 17th in maths and 19th in reading – surpassing both the United States and the United Kingdom – in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the worldwide scholastic performance measure of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Here’s another headline you don’t see every day.  Congratulations to Viet Nam on its successes in the realm of education, especially math and science achievement.

rise logoThis £4.2 million ($5.4 million), six-year research project is being carried out by Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE), a project launched in 2015 “to conduct high-quality research to build a body of world-class evidence to inform education policy, and to raise learning outcomes for children in the developing world.”

Research in Vietnam, and in at least five other countries, seeks to shift emphasis away from long-standing, input-oriented goals – children’s attendance in schools – and toward output-oriented achievements – increased literacy and numeracy skills.

RISE is supported by £27.6 million  ($35.7 million) in funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), whose contribution has enabled RISE to add a sixth country.

Specifically, the research will “undertake a systematic evaluation of Vietnam’s education system by analysing the status and impacts of past, current and upcoming educational reforms. The aim is to understand how policy levers made Vietnam’s exceptional achievements possible, and whether and how new reforms are able to build on its achievements.”  The key questions are:

  1. What explains Vietnam’s high levels of student learning?
  2. What impact will current and planned curriculum reforms have on student educational outcomes?

I’m pleased to see this kind of research being conducted and look forward with great anticipation to the results.  Follow this link to learn more about this research project and the Viet Nam country research team, a multidisciplinary group of nine researchers from Viet Nam, the US, the UK, and the Netherlands.



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