As of March 2021, the US hosted 24,534 Vietnamese students, down from 25,221 in December 2020 and 25,824 in September 2020. The number in January 2020, the second semester and the month that COVID-19 arrived in Viet Nam, was 29,976. Those are decreases of 13.85%, 2.34%, and 2.72% – in ascending chronological order. The total decrease from January of last year to March 2021 was 18.15%.
Here’s what the overall stats look like from April 2014 to March 2021. This offers a more useful perspective of recent Viet Nam-US enrollment trends.
March 2021: 24,534 (-18.15%)
January 2020: 29,976 (-2.31%)
March 2019: 30,684 (-2.94%)
March 2018: 31,613 (+2.58%)
March 2017: 30,817 (+5.9%)
March 2016: 29,101 (+12%)
March 2015: 25,982 (+25%)
April 2014: 20,832
On the bright side, the change was a net increase of 17.77% over a seven-year period. Viet Nam ranks 5th among sending countries after China (243,863), India (163,267), South Korea (40,859), and Canada (25,297). (Canada traded places with Viet Nam from 12-20 to 3-21.)
My guess is that Vietnamese enrollments in the US will continue to inch downward heading into the 2021/22 academic year, based on student visa issuance trends since October 2020 and lackluster applications at the beginning of the F-1 high season, which runs from May to August.
There is still considerable interest in study in the USA but most families are looking ahead to 2022. For some, especially those whose businesses have been affected by the pandemic, the temporary stumbling block is ability to pay. For most, there are still concerns about either COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism, or both. This depends upon the city, i.e., market.
Postscript: Another benefit of the Biden/Harris administration may be that SEVIS provides more frequent updates about international enrollments. So far, so good for 2021. Let’s reserve final judgement until the end of this calendar year.
Shalom (שלום), MAA