Trends in Vietnamese Academic Mobility: Opportunities for U.S. Institutions

I’m pleased to share a report that was released earlier this week by World Education News & Reviews, published by World Education Services (WES). 

A 2012 WES report identified Vietnam as one of the top four emerging countries from which to recruit international students.  Since that report was published, Vietnamese enrollment in U.S. HEIs has increased by 8%, and there is reason to believe that this growth trajectory will continue.

The article, entitled Trends in Vietnamese Academic Mobility: Opportunities for U.S. Institutions, provides a useful update about conditions in Vietnamese higher education and trends in overseas study, including the U.S.  Its conclusion?  In sum Vietnamese students continue to seek education abroad, which presents opportunities for HEIs looking to diversify and internationalize their campuses.

While the report is generally accurate, especially the sections that focus on the U.S., there are a couple of inaccuracies that I would like to point out:

  1. The top three overseas study destinations for Vietnamese students are Australia, the U.S. and China – in that order. 
  2. There are more than 100,000 young Vietnamese studying overseas, according to the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MoET,  2012).

To that I would add several clarifications:

  1. Last year, 60% of all Vietnamese undergraduates were enrolled at a community college, down from about 70% the year before.  That, of course, means that 40% of all undergrads from Vietnam were studying at a four-year institution.
  2. While it’s true that 38% were business majors, significant percentages of students were undeclared (10.2%) or studying engineering (9.9%), math/computer science (7.5%) physical/life sciences (7.5%) and social sciences (5.1%). 
  3. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the market has become much more competitive in the last 5-10 years, which means that in order to succeed institutions must devise a diversified and long-term recruitment strategy. 

This ICEF Monitor piece from April 2014 covers some of the same ground:  Spotlight on Vietnam:  quality issues, demand for study abroad and graduate employability using the first guest post I wrote for them in April 2013, entitled Why Vietnam?  A market snapshot, as a point of departure.


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