Over the past five years, there’s been a dramatic increase in the level of interest in Vietnam among US institutions of higher education, not limited to student recruitment. (Vietnam ranks 9th among “places of origin” and is one of the hottest student recruitment markets in the world for the US.) For some student recruitment is their initial foray into the “Vietnam market,” where they quickly begin to discover many other potential opportunities. A growing number of schools are taking Vietnam very seriously to the extent that they are beginning to invest consider time and money in setting and realizing Vietnam-related institutional goals that benefit their campuses and communities, as well as US-Vietnam relations and Vietnam.
One such institution is the University of Missouri, which established a Vietnam Institute in 2008. The Institute was preceded by The Vietnam Initiatives Group (VIG) whose purpose was “to evaluate the interests among faculty and the potentials for developing a strategic thrust for this country that is rapidly emerging as a critical country in global affairs.”
The mission of the Vietnam Institute is to promote closer relations between MU and Vietnam by developing a strategic plan for research and academic programs in Vietnam. Areas of emphasis are:
- 1) recruiting students and scholars;
- 2) developing focused MOUs for academic research and training;
- 3) co-sponsoring workshops and conferences; and
- 4) maintaining associations with key agencies and particular project stakeholders.
The results, according to the Institute’s website, are a large increase in Vietnamese students, the signing of several strategic MOUs, conduct of joint workshops, development of research grant proposals, and enhanced relationships with government agencies in Missouri, the US and Vietnam. This is an exemplary model for other US universities and colleges that wish to incorporate Vietnam into their internationalization strategy.