Welcome to the newest kid on the US higher education fair block, which has expanded considerably in the past 10 years. I’m pleased to see that the US Embassy has its very own higher education fair along the lines of the Institute of International Education-Vietnam fairs of yesteryear. In a sense and in this particular area, strategic partners have become friendly competitors.
Below is a description of the first-ever EducationUSA higher education fair, which took place on 30 January in Hanoi.
DO YOU WANT TO STUDY IN THE UNITED STATES?
Did you know that over 16,000 Vietnamese students are studying in the United States right now?
Do you want to join them?
If so, please come to Hanoi’s First-Ever US Embassy sponsored Education Fair
U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius will make opening remarks! (In my opinion, Ted Osius, who arrived in late December, has the potential of becoming one of the better US ambassadors to Vietnam, perhaps in the same league as the ambassador he served during his first tour in Vietnam, Pete Peterson.)
You can meet more than 40 representatives from U.S. universities and colleges!
You can learn about the application process!
You can find out more about educational exchange programs!
You can learn about visas and hear from students who have been to America!
Here’s a link to the fair agenda and the list of 44 participating colleges and universities.
This is yet another example of US Mission Vietnam offering a service that it used to outsource to IIE, a process that begin in earnest in the fall of 2009, when the US Embassy and Consulate General took over the EducationUSA advising centers in both cities. This issue was discussed in a 10.1.10 diplomatic cable, entitled Education Reform In Vietnam: Everyone Being Left Behind, officially penned by then Ambassador Michael Michalak, the self-proclaimed Education Ambassador:
EdUSA Student Advising Centers, which have been operated by IIE under a grant from ECA to promote study in the U.S., will soon be housed within the Embassy’s and Consulate’s Public Affairs Sections (PAS), which will give the USG greater control over the Centers’ activities and ensure that they continue to provide objective and comprehensive advice to students interested in studying in the U.S. free of charge. The move from IIE to PAS will reduce annual operating expenses from $400,000 to $160,000. (Note: This process, the result of political and financial considerations, occurred in other countries, too. The backstory to this official about-face warrants a post or article of its own, in the opinion of a former quasi-insider.)
The only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner. It was an opportunity waiting to be exploited, yet another way for the USG to exercise soft power in a vitally important area related to young people, education. US Mission Vietnam can control the message and cover its costs at the same time. That’s the best of both worlds from an official standpoint.