As everyone knows, establishing and maintaining a quality university does not come cheap. The Vietnamese-Germany University, which is an example of cooperation between the Vietnamese and German governments (i.e., the state of Hessen), was established in September 2009 in HCMC with total investment capital of $177.14 million, 90% of which is from foreign loans. The University of Science and Technology of Hanoi was established in December 2009 under a Vietnamese-French government agreement. Located in Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park on the outskirts of Hanoi, it has total investment capital of $210 million, of which $190 million is from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). It opened its doors in 2010-11.
Both have requested official permission to charge tuition fees of $5,000 per year. Keep in mind that Vietnam’s 2012 per capita income was $1,596, according to the World Bank, and that most students who attend public universities pay in the range of a few hundred dollars a year in tuition/fees. This means that the proposed tuition would be three times as much as the country’s per capita income.
Vietnam is in a bit of a catch-22 situation. Unlike the U.S., whose institutions of higher education have diversified funding sources, including tuition, federal and state funding, grants and contracts, private donations and endowment income, depending upon the type of institution, Vietnam has a limited state budget and very low tuition. Against a backdrop of a $50,000 per capita income, total U.S. higher education costs last year were as follows:
- Public Two-Year In-State: $10,550
- Public Four-Year In-State: $17,860
- Public Four-Year Out-of-State: $30,911
- Private Non-Profit Four-Year: $39,518
(Source: College Board)
The request by the Vietnamese-Germany University and the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi is under consideration by the government in the form of the ministries of Education and Training, Finance, Planning and Investment, Sciences and Technology, Foreign Affairs and the Government Office.
This is the direction in which this particular segment of Vietnamese higher education is heading – out of fiscal necessity. At the same time, both of these universities and others like them need to earmark merit- and need-based funding for students who are not necessarily academically talented and from families of means.
Interestingly, a $25,000 price tag for a quality undergraduate education is almost in the same league as RMIT Vietnam, the only 100% foreign-invested university in Vietnam. It offers a number of popular Bachelor’s degrees for $28,046, including internships. (The most expensive is the Bachelor of Design at $34,711.) RMIT Vietnam has an enrollment of over 6,000 students on its HCMC and Hanoi campuses, established in 2000 and 2004, respectively.