Another Rising Star in the World of Overseas Study

255px-Flag_of_Germany.svgGermany is gaining in popularity among growing numbers of young Vietnamese.  What’s not to like?  The prospect of a very inexpensive, world-class education in a country known for its stability, safety, strong and sustainable economy, and superb quality of life. All they have to do is study and master German, no small undertaking in a country in which the most popular foreign languages are English and East Asian languages.

Unlike other countries, Germany’s immigration policy is visionary, having long since recognized the stark and urgent reality that its population is graying (median age: 46.5 years, the 2nd oldest in the world, after Japan) and that it needs to attract sizable numbers of young foreigners who are well-educated in key fields and who like the idea of calling Germany home.

logo.make-it-in-germanyThe Make it in Germany initiative is a great example of a country rolling out the red carpet for individuals from selected countries with selected areas of expertise.  The website is in 12 languages, including Vietnamese, which gives you an idea of Germany’s priorities in terms of sending countries.  High priority professionals include doctors, engineers, scientists and IT specialists, and experts with vocational qualifications

According to the German government, there are nearly 5,800 Vietnamese students in Germany, including 3,588 at a university, 2,181 at a university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen), 20 at an art school, 3 at a teachers’ training college, and 2 at a school of theology. The most popular states – in descending order – are Berlin, Saxony, Bavaria, and Hessen.  (These data and much more are available hereNote:  The information is in German.)

As someone who has studied, taught, and conducted research in Germany, both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I encourage more Vietnamese young people to consider this dynamic and innovative country as a place in which to study and, if they wish, work and live for the long term.  The benefits are definitely mutual.



Recruitment Beyond China: Lower-Middle-Income Countries Show Promise

Recruitment strategies that focus on lower-middle-income countries, many of which are home to an upwardly mobile, aspiring middle class, are particularly important for institutions that are outside the top-tier. Research by WES shows that outbound students from these countries, especially those at key inflection points in their academic careers, tend to prioritize career opportunities over reputation when choosing where to study.

WES logoIn this excellent and timely WES (World Education Services) report on mobility trends Viet Nam is mentioned as one of four (4) lower-middle-income countries that are a “rising force in international enrollments.”

Among the highlights is this section entitled New Students; New Motivations.

Given that lower-middle-income countries have begun to emerge as viable sources of qualified students institutions need to understand student motivations and to design their recruitment strategies accordingly.

WES conducted a survey last year in an effort to better understand how international students choose institutions.  It revealed some key characteristics that distinguish students from lower-middle-income countries from those in their wealthier counterparts.

  • They do not view college rankings as a primary deciding factor in deciding where to apply. 
  • They view career prospects after graduation as a higher priority than any other country income group.
  • They are price sensitive, but weigh long-term earning potential (the ROI of their investment in education) heavily. 
  • They place a high value on career services.

Another one of the findings was that students from lower-middle-income countries tend to apply to a higher number of institutions than their counterparts from wealthier nations.  As the report noted, This lack of commitment increases competition for enrollments, but it also creates opportunities for institutions that are able to differentiate themselves.

A number of the results reflect the current situation in Viet Nam, which means that this report is recommended reading for colleagues whose institutions have targeted Viet Nam as a priority country.

Follow this link to read the report in its entirety.



Vietnam removes agency certification requirements

icef monitor

Below are the highlights of a guest post that I wrote for the ICEF Monitor, which described Vietnam as “a country that is increasingly seen as one of the most promising emerging markets for international student recruitment.”

  • The Vietnamese government has removed certification requirements for education agents
  • The move aims to reduce government bureaucracy in the Vietnamese industry and open up greater consumer choice
  • However, the change to a more open marketplace for education agents will likely also place a greater burden on both students and foreign institutions in terms of identifying credible and qualified agents

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.


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

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

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

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

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.