This fall, EducationUSA, i.e., US Mission-Viet Nam through its Embassy in Hanoi and Consulate in HCMC, is organizing a community college fair series in three cities in southern and central Viet Nam. According to the official description,
The series will offer opportunities to meet students in three major cities where demand for this sector of U.S. higher education is growing. Vietnam is now the 2nd leading country of origin for students at community colleges in the United States and the 6th leading country of origin for international students overall. Registration is open now to all accredited U.S. community colleges.
(As of June 2017, Viet Nam ranks 5th among all sending countries, having displaced Canada in March. Read this 25 June 2017 VNExpress International article and this 7 July 2017 University World News article for up-to-date information.)
The cities and dates are as follows:
- HCMC on 3 October
- Can Tho on 4 October
- Hue on 6 October
While it has been decreasing in recent years, demand for community colleges (CC) as a pathway to four-year institutions and a Bachelor’s degree remains strong among Vietnamese parents and students, especially in these regions of the country. According to the latest (June 2017) SEVIS by the Numbers update, 30% of all Vietnamese students in the US are enrolled in a CC while 29.7% are studying at a four-year college or university. (In 2009/10, 90% of all Vietnamese undergrads started out at a CC.)
Clearly, the most promising location among the three is HCMC, which is where the majority of CC students are coming from. There are far fewer students coming from the other two cities because of less ability to pay and a higher visa denial rate. This fair series is an example of a probable mismatch between US State Department and US community college goals. The former are focused on outreach as a manifestation of the exercise of soft power while the latter are here to recruit students for their institutions.