The sad reality in the field of international educational exchange is that most attempts at developing mutually beneficial academic partnerships wither on the vine once the MOU is signed, the last toast made and the visitors head home. When looking at a list of international partnerships, the question is always which ones are active and fruitful and which exist only on paper.
San Diego State University (SDSU), a nationally-ranked US institution that is very serious about Vietnam, recently sent a high-level delegation to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) seeking partners who share their interests. Delegation members included:
- Dr. Alan Sweedler, Assistant Vice President for International Programs
- Dr. Paul Wong, Dean, College of Arts and Letters
- Dr. Stanley Maloy, Dean, College of Sciences
- Dr. Joe Shapiro, Dean, College of Extended Studies
- Dr. Allen Wittenborn, Academic Director, Study Abroad Vietnam
In addition to the general idea of student exchange programs, English language programs, and recruiting opportunities, SDSU is interested in the development of one or more of the following specific programs:
1. A primarily online undergraduate degree in International Business (IB) that could begin with some kind of English for Academic Purposes training. The program would likely include a primarily online portion, plus one year of intensive study at SDSU. In association with this program, SDSU would very much like to consider options for its IB students in San Diego to come to Vietnam to study for a semester.
2. A two-year master’s degree program for both practitioners and researchers in the general area of infectious diseases including such potential concepts such personalized medicine, genomes, etc. Students would study one-year online and then would come to SDSU for a second year of intensive study.
3. An advanced certificate and two-year professional master’s degree program on environmental sustainability. Students would take coursework online, including both relevant courses in science, policy, and business skills, then would complete a directed internship focused on practical issues impacting sustainability.
4. Professional certificate programs for government, business, education, etc.
5. 6-week intensive summer study in Vietnam for SDSU students.
The delegation was also open to other ideas and suggestions.
The visit was designed around a pre-screening process and the exchange of information before the group arrived in Vietnam as the means to facilitate substantive discussions during the visit and to serve as a foundation upon which to build a healthy and productive long-term relationship. From 1-4 April, the SDSU delegation met with the following public and private institutions, and individuals:
Friday, April 1 (Hanoi)
- Vietnam National University (VNU)-Hanoi Meeting and Signing Ceremony
- Hanoi University
- Meeting with National Economics University (NEU) Colleagues/ Distance Education Center
Saturday, April 2 (Hanoi)
- Lunch Meeting with Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) Country Director and Staff
- Meeting at FPT Corporation
- FPT University Campus Tour and Meeting with Staff
Sunday, April 3 (HCMC)
Working Dinner with Tan Tao University (TTU) Representative
Monday, April 4 (HCMC)
In addition to the activities noted above, there were city tours in Hanoi and HCMC. I also provided a detailed country briefing and accompanied the group to meetings.
Disclosure: My company, Capstone Vietnam, helped SDSU pre-screen potential partners, offered advice and recommendations, and was responsible for trip logistics. (This is one of our institutional services.)