Viet Nam Enrollment Up 6%, According to SEVIS Biannual Report

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For some reason, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), decided to issue an update on international student enrollment as of May 2017.  There are currently 1.18 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying at 8,774 schools in the US, according to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update (PDF), of whom 77% are from Asia. 

Based on data extracted from SEVIS May 5, the international student population increased 2% compared to May 2016, with 76% of students enrolled in higher education programs of study.  Based on past increases, or taking a glass is half-empty look at that increase, it’s very modest at best, and a harbinger of a downward trend at worst. 

[In my opinion, May is not the best time to be analyzing and comparing international enrollment figures in the US because it’s the end of the academic year.  Why not wait until October, after the beginning of the new academic year?]

China and India continue to send the largest number of students to the US with 362,368 students and 206,698 students, respectively.  Saudi Arabia experienced the largest decline at -19% and Nepal the most sizable increase at +18%.

There are some bright spots, however, including one related to Vietnamese enrollment.  Viet Nam was one of a handful of sending countries with a notable increase of 6% from May 2016 to May 2017.  India was in the same range with a 7% increase. 

Fields of Study

There are no surprises here.  Business, including management, marketing and related support services, are the most popular fields of study, followed by engineering, computer science, remedial education and liberal arts.  43% of international students enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs of study. DHS classifies

Regional Trends

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This biannual report includes a new section on regional data trends.  Below are some excerpts from the SEVIS update:

Northeast:  The international student population in the Northeast increased 4% when compared to May 2016, marking the highest proportional growth of the four US regions. Rhode Island was the only state in the region to experience a dip in the number of international students compared to the previous year, while New York and Massachusetts added the largest number of international students during that same period, 4,490 students and 2,770 students, respectively. New Jersey saw an increase of 10% in international students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

South:  In the South, the international student population grew 3% since May 2016. Florida, Georgia and Texas all saw significant increases in the number of international students studying in those states.  While Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma saw decreases in the number of international students studying there.

Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland all saw major growth in international students taking part in their higher education system. Maryland saw a 10% increase in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. However, the southern region saw the largest growth at the graduate degree level. The number of international students pursuing master’s degrees increased 25% in Arkansas and 35% in Kentucky.

Midwest:  The Midwest saw minimal growth of 1%. Illinois added 1,331 students to its international student population, marking the largest increase in the region, while Nebraska experienced the largest proportional growth of 7%. Missouri experienced the largest decrease in international students, both in terms of student numbers and proportional decline, 763 students and 3%, respectively.

West:  In the western part of the US, international student enrollment stayed relatively static in California, other than an 8% increase in the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees. Idaho saw a 14% drop in the total number of international students studying in the state, with a 16% decrease in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. Nevada’s international student population grew by 5%, marking the largest proportional growth in the region.

The top 10 host states for Vietnamese students are as follows: 

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Washington
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New York
  6. Florida
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Illinois
  9. Virginia
  10. Georgia

The top three states enroll 46% of all Vietnamese students, while the top 10 enroll nearly 72% of the total.  Consistent with the regional trends reported above, Florida surpassed Pennsylvania and Georgia displaced Minnesota from November 2016.  

Stay tuned for the next, and much more interesting, update on the number of international students in the US, including from Viet Nam! 

MAA

BREXIT & US Election: No Major Short-Term Effects on VN Student Interest

hcmoblogo-newThis is the latest in a series of Diversification Market Reports produced by Hotcourses, the UK’s leading course search company with more than 6,000 course providers.  (Hotcourses was recently acquired by IDP.)

Below are an overview, executive summary, and list of the key takeaways, the most important of which is this:  BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.  The results of this survey were presented at the NAFSA 2017 annual conference in Los Angeles.

hotcourses vn trump

This report captures an overview of demand from students in Vietnam, and an
examination of the destinations they are headed to, the programs they are studying,
level of study and other trends and insights. The data in this report is informed by the
Hotcourses Insights Tool which tracks searches across the global Hotcourses websites,
to which there were over 32 million visitors in the past 12 months. 

The data for this report is drawn from the time period January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016.  The data was drawn from a sampling of 1,034,085 Vietnamese students researching 11 prospective destination markets over a 12 month period: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore,
Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States. 

Executive summary

  • Vietnam is a crucial market to engage with for universities looking to diversify
    their recruitment – particularly beyond China and India – gaining increasing
    international attention.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two Vietnamese cities where the most searches for
    overseas study were performed.
  • Vietnamese students’ top destination countries of interest were the United States
    and Australia, with 33% of Vietnamese researching universities in the United States
    and 27% in Australia.
  • Business and management is the most popular program of interest among
    Vietnamese students for both undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Key Takeaways

  • BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on
    Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two most important cities to travel to on
    international recruitment tours to Vietnam.
  • Business and Management is the top program of interest for both undergraduate
    and graduate level Vietnamese students.
  • Graduate programs in the UK are of high interest to Vietnamese students,
    particularly business and management.
  • USA’s Health and Medicine programs, especially those focused on
    pharmacology and psychology, are of high interest within the Vietnamese
    market.
  • Vietnam is a prime diversification market for Canada, as Vietnamese student
    interest there has been growing exponentially over the past year.
  • While interest in Australia as a destination market appears to be on a decline, it
    is still the second most popular destination market for Vietnamese students and
    has potential to rebound in the first half of 2017.

There is one caveat to all of the above:  The results are as of the end of 2016.  A lot of water has flowed under the political bridge in the past seven (7) months in both the US and the UK.  

MAA

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses-2017 Edition

This is an excellent report produced by the American Council on Education and sponsored by Navitas.  Here’s a brief description from the ACE website:

Conducted every five years, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. It is the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, and includes two- and four-year, public and private, degree-granting institutions.

148x193-mapping-2017-coverI’ve taken the liberty of excerpting the information below about student mobility and international student recruitment (pp. 25-26).  Viet Nam is one of the top three countries – after China and India – cited as a geographic target in 58% of the recruiting plans cited by respondents. (Bold red is mine.)

International student recruiting

Planning and goal-setting frame international student recruiting efforts for many institutions. Funding for various recruiting mechanisms and activities is increasing, though undergraduate recruiting is a greater focus in terms of resource allocation than graduate student recruiting.

Nearly half (48 percent) of institutions have an international student recruiting plan in place—either for the institution as a whole, or for one or more schools/colleges. Of these plans, over 80 percent specify numerical enrollment targets for undergraduates, graduate students, or both.

Fifty-eight percent of the recruiting plans cited by respondents include geographic targets. By a clear margin, the top three target countries are China, India, and Vietnam. These are followed by four additional countries, each of which was identified by 30 to 40 percent of respondents as a target: South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While these priorities generally hold across sectors, Japan figures particularly prominently as a target country among associate institutions.

The percentage of institutions providing funding for travel by institutional recruitment officers to recruit both undergraduate and graduate students increased in 2016. Nearly twice the percentage of institutions fund such travel for recruiting at the undergraduate level (44 percent) as at the graduate level (23 percent).

Just over a third (36 percent) of institutions employ technology other than email and web pages in their recruiting efforts (e.g., by participating in virtual college fairs and delivering online information sessions for interested students). While the 2016 and 2011 data on this indicator are not fully comparable, they suggest an upward trend.

The percentage of institutions that provide scholarships or other financial aid for undergraduate international students increased by eleven percentage points to just under half (49 percent), while the proportion offering funding to graduate international students increased from 24 percent to 30 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter is much more common among doctoral and master’s universities than at institutions in the other three sectors.

A markedly higher percentage of institutions are engaging overseas student recruiters (agents) than in 2011. Though undergraduate recruiting is again the primary focus, as illustrated in Figure 12, for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the percentage of institutions providing funding for recruiting agents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016. For both student populations, master’s institutions engage agents at higher rates than colleges and universities in other sectors.

Follow this link to download the report

MAA

Gaming the US Student Visa System: Easy as 1-2-3

fraudDo you want to emigrate to the US without the muss and fuss of a multi-year immigrant petition that may or may not be approved?  Psst!  Here’s a low-cost solution.  Apply to an undergraduate or graduate program, depending upon your educational background, at a reputable college or university where there are not many Vietnamese students, if any at all.  Your chances are better that the application will look legitimate. 

Make up a plausible story as to why you chose that off-the-beaten path institution (kudos to you for being so adventurous!), get the student visa, and pack your bags!  (If you’re denied the first time, pony up another fee and come up with a better story.  Maybe the second time will be the charm.  Or the third time.  There is always a bit of luck involved.)

Next, student visa in hand, fly directly to the city in which one of your relatives lives, as you planned from the very beginning.  Then contact your institution and apologize for the change of plans (“So sorry!  Family reasons!” you know the drill), and enroll at a local institution.  It doesn’t matter what you study as long as you’re legally in the US.  Plus, you can rest easy knowing that the original admitting institution is legally obligated to transfer your SEVIS record if you submit the request within a specified period of time.  (You know what is, right?)  Bingo, you’re in!  You’re golden!  Out with the old, in with the new!  Congratulations!  You did it!

Now you can plan your next move.  Marriage to a US citizen?  Maybe you or your rels already have something arranged and someone in mind.  An immigration attorney will help you with that.  Work visa?  That may take a little longer, especially in the current political climate, but it’s possible.   An immigration attorney an help you with that, too.

Shift to a more serious tone…

Here’s one particularly egregious example of what is essentially visa fraud, whereby a student uses an existing loophole in US immigration law to presumably to lay the groundwork for immigration.   

cheating_bartA young woman says she wants to pursue an MBA in the US.  She gains admission, finally gets her student visa, arrives in the US, and makes a beeline for an area with a high concentration of Vietnamese-Americans, including, surprise!, some of her relatives.  Following my instructions above, she immediately requests that her SEVIS record be transferred to Community College A even though she has a BA, which was required to enter the MBA program. 

No, wait.  Maybe it’s not a CC, after all.  The plot thickens.  She’s actually planning to take ESL classes at a local university, even though she met the English requirement of the aforementioned MBA program.  (Is your head spinning yet?)  At any rate, it’s all for show because it’s clear she’s killing time so that a green card can be arranged.  

The admitting institution, which is investing considerable resources to recruit international, including Vietnamese, students, loses a student, which amounts to a waste of staff time and loss of valuable tuition revenue, among other intangible yet equally important losses.

The bottom line is that the US government has to close this loophole, or at least not make this process so easy for young people who are clearly not bona fide students without a plan to return home, two pillars of the holy trinity of the student visa process. 

Advisers, be they from EducationUSA, the private sector, or admitting institutions, cannot read minds and look into potential students’ hearts.  The system can, however, be reformed so that students are held accountable for their decisions.  Is anyone listening?

MAA

Decoding International Students’ Experiences With Education Agents: Insights for U.S. Institutions

wenr_logo

This is an excellent survey conducted by World Education Services (WES) about the use of education agents by students around the world – with the exception of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Here’s a brief note about their analysis, including some caveats.

Survey results are broken down by region of origin. We compare results for students from the top two sub-regions of origin – South and Central Asia, and East Asia – as well as from several major world regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. *

The survey examines services used at different points in the enrollment funnel – discovery, application, and enrollment. It also provides insights into the different types of education agents used by international students in different parts of the world. These include institution-sponsored agents – those who receive commissions from or have a contract or agreement with U.S. institutions; and independent educational agents – those who are paid by the students and their families.

* Response rates from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa were very low, thus findings are not discussed with one or two exceptions.

It paints a very mixed picture of agent use by survey respondents and highlights some of the fundamental flaws of agency-based recruitment. 

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

As an aside, a recent trend I’ve noticed in Viet Nam is that of increasing numbers of students bypassing agents and applying directly to US colleges and universities.  (I view this as positive, by the way.)  Possible reasons include greater access to quality information and, consequently, more confidence on the part of students and their parents.  There is also the realization among many that the application procedures of some types of institutions are very simple.  Finally, many students have done their homework, know exactly where they want to go, and therefore have no need for an intermediary.  Survey, anyone?

MAA

Government to ease rules on foreign investment in HE

This is yet another example of the Vietnamese government’s flexibility, as well as its ability to make mid-course corrections and learn from past mistakes.

A new government decree to ease the way for foreign investment in education in Vietnam, likely to be approved by the country’s leadership as early as June, will streamline procedures and reduce bureaucracy for setting up foreign branch campuses in the country.

The new decree will replace Decree Number 73 issued during 2012 which relates to foreign investment and collaboration in higher education. The new decree will increases the minimum investment capital to set up a foreign-backed university, from VND300 billion (US$13 million) under Decree 73 to a minimum of VND1 trillion or approximately US$45 million, excluding the land value for university construction.

“The draft decree is being revised and we have almost been through our internal procedures, so I hope we will be going to submit it to the government, to the prime minister, to issue next month or July,” Nguyen Xuan Vang, the director general for international cooperation in Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, told University World News last week.

Significantly, this article includes a reference to Fulbright University Vietnam as an “existing project.”

Existing projects

The new decree will, however, not apply to foreign-funded projects already under way such as Fulbright University Vietnam or FUV, an independent non-profit university funded by the United States and Vietnamese governments.

“Fulbright has been set up and they have submitted their application for the operating licence,” Vang said. “When they will be granted the operating licence, then they can recruit students, they can set up the university, but in order to operate they have to be able to show that they have faculty, they have staff, they have everything ready for quality assurance.”

Vang thought FUV’s operating licence could be granted by the end of this year, at the very earliest in September this year.

The project had been embroiled in a controversy over the appointment last year of Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, US senator, and alleged war criminal as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees. He is said to have quietly resigned from his high-profile position in recent weeks.

Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a Hanoi-based educational consulting company, said: “If Bob Kerrey had stayed on, FUV would have remained a project and the red light would not have changed. By leaving, the red light quickly changed to green.”

eyewitness2
Bùi Thị Lượm, the sole survivor of the attack carried out by Bob Kerrey and his US Navy SEALS unit in February 1969. (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC.)

The quote from me was excerpted from this 26 May 2017 article The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position, which was widely distributed and quickly translated into Vietnamese. 

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

MAA

The Education Agent Issue in the US: Like a Bad Penny

bad pennyIt’s reminiscent of those trick candles that delight children and adults alike.  (OK, some adults.)  You blow them out and they continue to relight themselves – like magic!  While the US was late to the agent debate, actions that have been taken to date, while most would agree represent progress, have clearly not assuaged everyone’s concerns about the academic well-being of students who are, or should be, after all, front and center for those of us who are involved in educational advising.  

With the recent Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) draft policy (PDF), which would prohibit its accredited institutions from using incentive-based compensation in international student recruitment, it appears that “it ain’t over till it’s over” regarding this contentious issue.

MSCHE, which accredits 525 institutions in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C., has essentially chosen to extend the Title IV restrictions on incentive-based compensation that apply to domestic student recruitment to international students.

msche logoAside from being a shot across the bow of supporters of agency-based recruitment, what are the practical implications of this policy move?  Will it make a difference?  Is this rule binding?  Probably not, but MSCHE-accredited institutions would be well-advised to follow it lest an infraction become a sticking point in their (re)accreditation.  Will the other regional accrediting agencies follow in MSCHE’s regulatory footsteps?  Only time will tell. (Regional accreditation is the gold standard of institutional accreditation in the US.)

Once again, this raises a fundamental question that advocates of commission-based recruitment tend to ignore, or believe can be addressed with band-aid solutions that often amount to nothing more than window dressing.  Is it even possible to regulate this often shady global industry?  Stay tuned!

MAA