by Hiep Pham, 6 April 2013, Issue No: 266
Hai Tran never imagined, when he waved farewell to his parents at the boarding gate of Vietnam’s Noi Bai airport in 1998 to study information technology at a Russian university, that it was the start of a 15-year adventure in several foreign countries.
The recipient of a government scholarship, he expected to return to Vietnam within two years of graduating – a condition of the scholarship programme. But one way or another, Hai dodged the rule, moving to Canada after graduation and then to the United States, where he still works.
“When you are 23 your perspective on life is different to when you were 18 or 19. You are thinking about how to support your parents, how to prepare to finance your own family in the short term and, ultimately, how to avoid the knowledge and skills acquired at university being wasted,” Hai told University World News.
“If I returned to Vietnam in 2003 or 2004, how could I achieve all of my desires? I did not have a house in a big city like Hanoi and my parents were only farmers,” Hai said.
He is not unusual among Vietnamese born after the Vietnam war, which ended in 1975, who had opportunities to study abroad and never returned. Unofficial data estimates that study-abroad students who stayed overseas number between 10,000 and 20,000.
According to the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese, there are nearly 4.5 million Vietnamese living around the world, including 400,000 who have bachelor and higher degrees – a huge brain drain for the country.
In March 2004, Vietnam’s Communist Party enacted Resolution 36 on Overseas Vietnamese. Its objective was to persuade Vietnamese abroad to come back to support development in every sector, including in the economy, science and culture.
Click here to read the rest of this article, which appeared in University World News – The Global Window on Higher Education.
Note: This is one story but not the whole story. Stay tuned. MAA