Trump is not deterring Vietnamese from studying in US

Here are the introduction and conclusion to my latest (7.7.17) University World News article about the possible impact of political changes in the US, in particular, on young Vietnamese studying overseas.  It includes links to recent articles.  If these excerpts whet your appetite for more, follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

MAA

INTRODUCTION

photo_4856Vietnam remains a hot country for United States colleges, universities, boarding and day schools interested in international student recruitment. Just as its economy has managed to weather the global storm of the past few years, Vietnamese young people continue to study abroad in large numbers, undeterred by Brexit, the 2016 US presidential election and other cataclysmic, potentially game-changing socio-political events.

In fact, the US is the world’s second-leading host of Vietnamese students – after Japan – with over 30,000 at all levels, mainly in higher education, according to the latest (June 2017) SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update. However, Japan and the US are an apples and oranges comparison since the latter offers mostly short-term, vocational programmes.

Vietnam displaced Canada as the fifth-leading sending country to the US in March 2017, a position it continues to hold in the latest update.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Vietnam is defying the odds, as it has in so many respects in the recent past and throughout its long, tumultuous and inspirational history.

The articles above show why US institutions should make Vietnam a priority country for international student recruitment and why they should develop or fine-tune an ethical recruitment strategy in what has become a fiercely competitive market, not only among US institutions but with those coming from countries that have recently discovered Vietnam as a potentially promising recruitment market.

While the recruiting wave will eventually break because of demographic and development-related factors, such as aging of the population and an improvement in the quality of the domestic higher education system for example, demand for overseas study will continue to gain momentum for now, barring unforeseen political and economic factors.

Myanmar: a new frontier for international student recruitment

Since political and economic liberalization, the advent of a multiparty democratic system, and the lifting of economic sanctions, the country has been opening up to the world in grand fashion.

Flag_of_Myanmar_svgThe above quote is from a 7.7.17 PIE News blog post that I co-authored with Deepak Neopane, the founder of City College Yangon and managing director of Academics International, an educational consulting company based in Yangon.

Follow this link to read the post in its entirety.

MAA

Foreigner attacked after traffic incident

anh-tay-bi-danh-2-1498318774213

The video of this incident, which occurred on 23 June in Hanoi, went viral with 2 million views.  Below is a summary from DanTri International.  (Here’s a better version of the video that is linked in the article.)

Some witnesses said that the fight on Tran Khat Chan Street started when the man drove his car over the foreigner’s foot. The foreigner told the driver to stop the car so that he could take his shoe, but the driver did not do. So, the foreigner hit the car mirror. 

The driver then got out of his car and attacked the foreigner.

The two Vietnamese men and the foreigner went to the local police station where police made them apologise to each other. 

Only minor injuries, a heavy dose of adrenaline, and wounded male egos.  All’s well that ends well? 

This is an object lesson in what not to do in this situation.  Here are the dynamics of the scenario in question, which helped to fuel the fires of aggression and violence.  It involved a foreigner and the foreigner’s girlfriend was Vietnamese, who did her level best to keep him out of the fray.  (There is a lot to say about the cultural dynamics of this situation, including masculine identity and perceptions of foreigners, but it transcends the scope of one blog post.  Suffice it to say that a video of two Vietnamese men fighting would probably not have gone viral.)

Here’s the bottom line:  There are no rules to street fights and, chances are, you are not going to win, if you define winning as teaching the other guy a lesson by giving him a good “whupping”, and walking away unscathed.  Chances are good, in fact, that you could end up in the hospital or worse. And while it’s happening, chances are no one is going to help you because they’re afraid, among other reasons.

This incident started with one man, the driver of the car, and the foreigner on the motorbike.  The former started to throw punches.  He was joined by a friend, which means it quickly became two against one.  It could have been a posse against one.  The driver, in addition to throwing punches, including one that landed on the woman’s face, later picked up a brick, after trying to hit the foreigner with his helmet.  It could have been a knife.  No rules, no “fighting fair,” just unrelenting attempts to dominate one’s opponent. 

Fortunately, the police were on hand to ensure a peaceful resolution.  Without their involvement you can let your imagination run wild as to what might have happened.

Advice to foreigners, i.e., foreign men:  Avoid conflict, or if conflicts finds you, walk away.  Be the better man.  Take the high road.  Go home in one piece.  

A US colleague recently asked me whether Viet Nam was a safe country.  The answer, of course, is a resounding yes.  There is very little violent crime.  Most are crimes are those against property, e.g., petty theft that includes drive-by purse and bag snatchings, especially in HCMC.  (Injury can occur but it’s incidental.)

PostscriptVietnamese men arrested for attacking American in Hanoi (27.6.17, VNExpress International)  The plot thickens.  The police obviously had a change of heart.

MAA

In Viet Nam, Good Parenting Equals A Straight-A Kid, Plus an American Degree

Call it love, ambition or obsession, but the only thing most Vietnamese care about is a well-educated child.

good parenting
Photo by Thanh Nguyen, VNExpress International

It’s probably a bit of each.  Parents generally want the best for their children and overseas study, especially in the US, which is the world’s second leading host of Vietnamese students, is seen as one means to that end. 

Of course, there are other stories waiting to be told, for example, about growing numbers of young Vietnamese returning home after studying and, in many cases, working overseas. Many of them are making significant contributions in their fields, sectors, and to Vietnamese society.  There are also the many contributions and accomplishments of those who either choose not, or cannot afford, to study overseas, i.e., the vast majority of Vietnamese.

Follow this link to read the entire 25 June VNExpress International article

 

MAA

Nativism Not Nationalism (!)

uwn masthead

In her 16 June 2017 University World News article US student mobility trends in a global context Rajika Bhandari refers to “the rise of nationalism around the world and what is perceived as a turning inward of many traditional host destinations that have typically attracted large numbers of students and scholars from around the world.”  A turning inward refers to nativism not nationalism.  Ms. Bhandari is not the first colleague to misuse this term nor is she likely to be the last, unfortunately.  Please see these articles for more information.

The turn to nativism hinders international education
Mark Ashwill – 20 January 2017 Issue No: 443

Nativism is defined as “the policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants” and often goes hand in hand with xenophobia. Nativism and nationalism are by no means mutually inclusive.

US nationalism – The elephant in the room
Mark Ashwill – 18 March 2016 Issue No: 405

…nationalism is defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.

MAA

Decoding International Students’ Experiences With Education Agents: Insights for U.S. Institutions

wenr_logo

This is an excellent survey conducted by World Education Services (WES) about the use of education agents by students around the world – with the exception of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Here’s a brief note about their analysis, including some caveats.

Survey results are broken down by region of origin. We compare results for students from the top two sub-regions of origin – South and Central Asia, and East Asia – as well as from several major world regions: Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. *

The survey examines services used at different points in the enrollment funnel – discovery, application, and enrollment. It also provides insights into the different types of education agents used by international students in different parts of the world. These include institution-sponsored agents – those who receive commissions from or have a contract or agreement with U.S. institutions; and independent educational agents – those who are paid by the students and their families.

* Response rates from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa were very low, thus findings are not discussed with one or two exceptions.

It paints a very mixed picture of agent use by survey respondents and highlights some of the fundamental flaws of agency-based recruitment. 

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

As an aside, a recent trend I’ve noticed in Viet Nam is that of increasing numbers of students bypassing agents and applying directly to US colleges and universities.  (I view this as positive, by the way.)  Possible reasons include greater access to quality information and, consequently, more confidence on the part of students and their parents.  There is also the realization among many that the application procedures of some types of institutions are very simple.  Finally, many students have done their homework, know exactly where they want to go, and therefore have no need for an intermediary.  Survey, anyone?

MAA

Government to ease rules on foreign investment in HE

This is yet another example of the Vietnamese government’s flexibility, as well as its ability to make mid-course corrections and learn from past mistakes.

A new government decree to ease the way for foreign investment in education in Vietnam, likely to be approved by the country’s leadership as early as June, will streamline procedures and reduce bureaucracy for setting up foreign branch campuses in the country.

The new decree will replace Decree Number 73 issued during 2012 which relates to foreign investment and collaboration in higher education. The new decree will increases the minimum investment capital to set up a foreign-backed university, from VND300 billion (US$13 million) under Decree 73 to a minimum of VND1 trillion or approximately US$45 million, excluding the land value for university construction.

“The draft decree is being revised and we have almost been through our internal procedures, so I hope we will be going to submit it to the government, to the prime minister, to issue next month or July,” Nguyen Xuan Vang, the director general for international cooperation in Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, told University World News last week.

Significantly, this article includes a reference to Fulbright University Vietnam as an “existing project.”

Existing projects

The new decree will, however, not apply to foreign-funded projects already under way such as Fulbright University Vietnam or FUV, an independent non-profit university funded by the United States and Vietnamese governments.

“Fulbright has been set up and they have submitted their application for the operating licence,” Vang said. “When they will be granted the operating licence, then they can recruit students, they can set up the university, but in order to operate they have to be able to show that they have faculty, they have staff, they have everything ready for quality assurance.”

Vang thought FUV’s operating licence could be granted by the end of this year, at the very earliest in September this year.

The project had been embroiled in a controversy over the appointment last year of Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, US senator, and alleged war criminal as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees. He is said to have quietly resigned from his high-profile position in recent weeks.

Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a Hanoi-based educational consulting company, said: “If Bob Kerrey had stayed on, FUV would have remained a project and the red light would not have changed. By leaving, the red light quickly changed to green.”

eyewitness2
Bùi Thị Lượm, the sole survivor of the attack carried out by Bob Kerrey and his US Navy SEALS unit in February 1969. (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC.)

The quote from me was excerpted from this 26 May 2017 article The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position, which was widely distributed and quickly translated into Vietnamese. 

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

MAA