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

NAFSA 2017: Riding the Wave

group pic2
With my co-presenters, Diana Sampson and Stephanie Sieggreen (to my right), after our general session.

It was another rewarding and enjoyable NAFSA annual conference with nearly 10,000 attendees.  My week was filled with meetings with colleagues from the US and many other countries that have targeted Viet Nam as a priority country.  While most are interested in recruiting (more) Vietnamese students, some have other project ideas.  

Riding the Wave

I kicked off conference week with a Viet Nam student recruitment seminar entitled Riding the Wave.  I first organized this free, unofficial, pre-conference seminar last year in Denver because there were no Viet Nam-related workshops or general sessions offered. 

The title is reference to current societal and market conditions, i.e., the interest in overseas study among Vietnamese parents and students that is the result of several factors, including the young median age of the population (30.1), rapid economic development and the concomitant growing ability to pay, and the substandard quality of much of the domestic higher education system, among other reasons. 

The wave will break at some point due to demographic factors, improvements in the quality of Vietnamese higher education, and trends that are difficult to predict for those of us who don’t have a crystal ball.  

I was joined by Phúc (Théodore) Phan, Co-Founder and Instructional Designer, College Scout (CS), who talked about the exciting and cutting-edge work that CS, a Hanoi-based ed-tech startup, is doing to help prepare students for success. 

Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam

room 502AI wrapped up a very busy week by chairing a general session about how to recruit students in Viet Nam without using an education agent.  (Ideally, institutions do both in highly competitive markets like Viet Nam.) 

This session was well-attended in spite of the fact that it was scheduled in the last time slot on the final day of the conference.  Many more would have attended had they not been on their way home.  My only wish is that we had had more time. 

NOTE:  If you’re interested in obtaining a PDF copy of our presentation, you can download it from the conference site or app until mid-August (must be logged in), or contact me.

app session overviewFinally, thanks to my distinguished colleagues, Diana Sampson (Shoreline Community College, WA) and Stephanie Sieggreen (Western Kentucky University) for their outstanding contributions.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work with both of them. 

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

Gaming the US Student Visa System: Easy as 1-2-3

fraudDo you want to emigrate to the US without the muss and fuss of a multi-year immigrant petition that may or may not be approved?  Psst!  Here’s a low-cost solution.  Apply to an undergraduate or graduate program, depending upon your educational background, at a reputable college or university where there are not many Vietnamese students, if any at all.  Your chances are better that the application will look legitimate. 

Make up a plausible story as to why you chose that off-the-beaten path institution (kudos to you for being so adventurous!), get the student visa, and pack your bags!  (If you’re denied the first time, pony up another fee and come up with a better story.  Maybe the second time will be the charm.  Or the third time.  There is always a bit of luck involved.)

Next, student visa in hand, fly directly to the city in which one of your relatives lives, as you planned from the very beginning.  Then contact your institution and apologize for the change of plans (“So sorry!  Family reasons!” you know the drill), and enroll at a local institution.  It doesn’t matter what you study as long as you’re legally in the US.  Plus, you can rest easy knowing that the original admitting institution is legally obligated to transfer your SEVIS record if you submit the request within a specified period of time.  (You know what is, right?)  Bingo, you’re in!  You’re golden!  Out with the old, in with the new!  Congratulations!  You did it!

Now you can plan your next move.  Marriage to a US citizen?  Maybe you or your rels already have something arranged and someone in mind.  An immigration attorney will help you with that.  Work visa?  That may take a little longer, especially in the current political climate, but it’s possible.   An immigration attorney an help you with that, too.

Shift to a more serious tone…

Here’s one particularly egregious example of what is essentially visa fraud, whereby a student uses an existing loophole in US immigration law to presumably to lay the groundwork for immigration.   

cheating_bartA young woman says she wants to pursue an MBA in the US.  She gains admission, finally gets her student visa, arrives in the US, and makes a beeline for an area with a high concentration of Vietnamese-Americans, including, surprise!, some of her relatives.  Following my instructions above, she immediately requests that her SEVIS record be transferred to Community College A even though she has a BA, which was required to enter the MBA program. 

No, wait.  Maybe it’s not a CC, after all.  The plot thickens.  She’s actually planning to take ESL classes at a local university, even though she met the English requirement of the aforementioned MBA program.  (Is your head spinning yet?)  At any rate, it’s all for show because it’s clear she’s killing time so that a green card can be arranged.  

The admitting institution, which is investing considerable resources to recruit international, including Vietnamese, students, loses a student, which amounts to a waste of staff time and loss of valuable tuition revenue, among other intangible yet equally important losses.

The bottom line is that the US government has to close this loophole, or at least not make this process so easy for young people who are clearly not bona fide students without a plan to return home, two pillars of the holy trinity of the student visa process. 

Advisers, be they from EducationUSA, the private sector, or admitting institutions, cannot read minds and look into potential students’ hearts.  The system can, however, be reformed so that students are held accountable for their decisions.  Is anyone listening?

MAA