Cross-Border Education vs. Overseas Study: Similar But Different

In the 1 July 2014 issue of there was a misleading statement about Vietnamese students and overseas study.  Below are 1) the headline and statement from NAFSA; and 2) the actual University World News article on which the NAFSA post is based, along with my response.

[For the uninitiated, NAFSA:  Association of International Educators, is a US-based non-profit organization for professionals in all areas of international education, including education abroad advising and administration, international student advising, campus internationalization, admissions, outreach, overseas advising, and English as a Second Language (ESL) administration. As of 2010, it served approximately 10,000 educators worldwide, representing nearly 3,000 higher education institutions.]

1)  Vietnamese Students Losing Interest in International EducationInterest in overseas study might be waning in Vietnam after years of effort to promote the benefits. The government has tightened regulations while some investors have pulled out of the higher education sector, and more students are choosing to stay within the country rather than explore international options, according to University World News.

2)  Cross-border education losing favour with studentsTransnational higher education providers in Vietnam are having to work harder to attract students and some international investors are bailing out as cross-border education appears to be losing favour after almost a decade of exponential proliferation.

If you take a few minutes to read the UWN article, you’ll discover that it’s about cross-border education, not to be confused with overseas study, and the government’s attempts to regulate foreign education providers in Vietnam.  Young Vietnamese who study abroad and those who study at home comprise two distinctly different market segments.   

My hope is that NAFSA will print a correction or clarification and, in the future, that its editors will take the time to read an article before writing about it.  Given how busy everyone is and NAFSA’s credibility, my guess is that many colleagues are inclined to take the summary at face value without reading the original source article.  In this case, they might actually believe the screaming headline that Vietnamese students are “Losing Interest in International Education” and the lead sentence that “Interest in overseas study might be waning in Vietnam…” 

The fact is that interest in overseas study among Vietnamese students remains strong.  Speaking of which, the answer to the question I posed in my June e-newsletter is in this blog post entitled 125,000 Vietnamese Studied Overseas in 2013. (No winners this time!) According to the April 2014 SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly report (PDF download), nearly 21,000 Vietnamese students are studying in the U.S. at all levels.


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