Today is the first anniversary of the day that An International Educator received the most traffic ever in a 24-hour period – 1,315 views. The catalyst? An interview in the Vietnamese language media (i.e., Tuổi Trẻ Online) about unaccredited US schools in Vietnam that spread like wildfire.
The purpose of the interview and the list I posted on this blog was simple: to educate Vietnamese “consumers” about US and other foreign higher education institutions so that they can make an informed decision about the value of the education and training being offered.
As I mentioned in a subsequent post, this is a hot-button issue because it involves tangibles like money (it’s a multimillion dollar industry in Vietnam) and intangibles such as reputation, prestige, “face,” etc. As I’m fond of saying, a free market does not mean freedom to exploit and defraud.
Within a month, the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) declared that unauthorized joint training programs are illegal and that the Ministry will not recognize the diplomas of programs offered in cooperation with unaccredited foreign partners. That’s the power of the press and the wisdom of some key MoET officials.
The power of money and the influence it can buy is the fact the original Vietnamese interview disappeared as quickly as it appeared from the newspaper’s website at the behest of one of the aggrieved unaccredited schools. It lives on here and the English translation can be found here.
So why do I have an interest in this issue? Because it affects both Vietnam and the US in a number of negative ways. To the extent that unaccredited schools from the US are successful in enrolling large numbers of Vietnamese students in programs of marginal quality at best who then graduate with largely worthless degrees, the reputation of legitimate (officially accredited) US higher education may be tarnished.
The unfortunate reality is that most of the rogue providers doing business in Vietnam are “made in the USA” or attempt to wrap themselves in the American flag in order to positively influence the bottom line. The bittersweet fact is that America exports some of the world’s best and worst higher education.