Donald Trump & I Agree on Two Things

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President Trump’s limousine rounding the corner on 11 November i on its way to the Metropole Hotel downtown Hanoi

As we ease into the Solar New Year and look ahead with great anticipation to the 2018 Lunar New Year, here are some upbeat thoughts about Donald Trump’s November 2017 visit to Viet Nam.  Let’s start the year off on a happy note!

In the weeks leading up to President Trump’s visit to Viet Nam for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Danang and the state visit to Hanoi the following day, I was interviewed by several journalists about the education angle of Trump’s visit and some of his (anti-immigration) policies, real or imagined. 

One of my comments, a hope, in fact, was that Donald Trump would say and do the right things, both scripted and unscripted.  In other words, that he would behave himself.  This was for the sake of continued good relations between the two countries and also continued interest in the US as an overseas study destination.

Lo and behold, he did!  Here are two examples, points on which he and I are agreement.  It’s a rare moment so savor it!

Vietnamese students rank among the best students in the world.  This assertion was made in a his speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Danang.  While it was no doubt written by one of his staff with input from the US Mission in Viet Nam, that statement is generally true in terms of academic achievement and reputation at many secondary and postsecondary institutions in the US and other countries.  

Viet Nam is one of the great miracles of the world, a statement he made at a state banquet in Hanoi.  Since this was Trump’s very first trip to Viet Nam, my guess is that his (mis)perceptions about the country and what it would look like and be like clashed with the reality of what he saw from Air Force One and his limousine.  In other words, it blew his mind.  All of the construction, the businesses, the cars, the luxury cars, the motorbikes, etc. 

I agree because I have an inkling, based on what I’ve read, seen, and experienced in my over 12 years of living and working in Viet Nam, of just how much the Vietnamese and their country have overcome since the end of the American War, and how much progress they’ve made. 

pew research survey life better worse
Pew Research Center Spring 2017 Global Attitudes Survey

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, a whopping 88% of Vietnamese said that life is better than it was 50 years ago, the most positive response in the world.  (That percentage is not surprising when you consider that 1967 was approaching the height of the American War in Viet Nam, a war in which 3.8 million Vietnamese ultimately perished, over half of them civilians.) 

Then there is Viet Nam’s tiger economy, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which has improved the standard of living and the quality of life for most Vietnamese.  That explains the high level of economic confidence.  (US Americans, by contrast, said that life is worse now than it was 50 years ago by a margin of 41% to 37%.)  91% said the economic conditions are good.  Even if you’re only in Viet Nam for a few days on your first visit, you will sense this optimism, dynamism, and forward momentum. 

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Postscript: I would describe President’s Trump’s reception on the streets of Hanoi as lukewarm.  There was some polite applause as his limousine drove by.  (Those applauding included tourists.)  The level of excitement didn’t compare to that of Barack Obama’s visit in May 2016 or Bill Clinton’s trip in November 2000.  It was more on par with George W. Bush’s visit to Hanoi in 2006 for APEC. 

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BREXIT & US Election: No Major Short-Term Effects on VN Student Interest

hcmoblogo-newThis is the latest in a series of Diversification Market Reports produced by Hotcourses, the UK’s leading course search company with more than 6,000 course providers.  (Hotcourses was recently acquired by IDP.)

Below are an overview, executive summary, and list of the key takeaways, the most important of which is this:  BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.  The results of this survey were presented at the NAFSA 2017 annual conference in Los Angeles.

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This report captures an overview of demand from students in Vietnam, and an
examination of the destinations they are headed to, the programs they are studying,
level of study and other trends and insights. The data in this report is informed by the
Hotcourses Insights Tool which tracks searches across the global Hotcourses websites,
to which there were over 32 million visitors in the past 12 months. 

The data for this report is drawn from the time period January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016.  The data was drawn from a sampling of 1,034,085 Vietnamese students researching 11 prospective destination markets over a 12 month period: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore,
Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States. 

Executive summary

  • Vietnam is a crucial market to engage with for universities looking to diversify
    their recruitment – particularly beyond China and India – gaining increasing
    international attention.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two Vietnamese cities where the most searches for
    overseas study were performed.
  • Vietnamese students’ top destination countries of interest were the United States
    and Australia, with 33% of Vietnamese researching universities in the United States
    and 27% in Australia.
  • Business and management is the most popular program of interest among
    Vietnamese students for both undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Key Takeaways

  • BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on
    Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two most important cities to travel to on
    international recruitment tours to Vietnam.
  • Business and Management is the top program of interest for both undergraduate
    and graduate level Vietnamese students.
  • Graduate programs in the UK are of high interest to Vietnamese students,
    particularly business and management.
  • USA’s Health and Medicine programs, especially those focused on
    pharmacology and psychology, are of high interest within the Vietnamese
    market.
  • Vietnam is a prime diversification market for Canada, as Vietnamese student
    interest there has been growing exponentially over the past year.
  • While interest in Australia as a destination market appears to be on a decline, it
    is still the second most popular destination market for Vietnamese students and
    has potential to rebound in the first half of 2017.

There is one caveat to all of the above:  The results are as of the end of 2016.  A lot of water has flowed under the political bridge in the past seven (7) months in both the US and the UK.  

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Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses-2017 Edition

This is an excellent report produced by the American Council on Education and sponsored by Navitas.  Here’s a brief description from the ACE website:

Conducted every five years, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. It is the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, and includes two- and four-year, public and private, degree-granting institutions.

148x193-mapping-2017-coverI’ve taken the liberty of excerpting the information below about student mobility and international student recruitment (pp. 25-26).  Viet Nam is one of the top three countries – after China and India – cited as a geographic target in 58% of the recruiting plans cited by respondents. (Bold red is mine.)

International student recruiting

Planning and goal-setting frame international student recruiting efforts for many institutions. Funding for various recruiting mechanisms and activities is increasing, though undergraduate recruiting is a greater focus in terms of resource allocation than graduate student recruiting.

Nearly half (48 percent) of institutions have an international student recruiting plan in place—either for the institution as a whole, or for one or more schools/colleges. Of these plans, over 80 percent specify numerical enrollment targets for undergraduates, graduate students, or both.

Fifty-eight percent of the recruiting plans cited by respondents include geographic targets. By a clear margin, the top three target countries are China, India, and Vietnam. These are followed by four additional countries, each of which was identified by 30 to 40 percent of respondents as a target: South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While these priorities generally hold across sectors, Japan figures particularly prominently as a target country among associate institutions.

The percentage of institutions providing funding for travel by institutional recruitment officers to recruit both undergraduate and graduate students increased in 2016. Nearly twice the percentage of institutions fund such travel for recruiting at the undergraduate level (44 percent) as at the graduate level (23 percent).

Just over a third (36 percent) of institutions employ technology other than email and web pages in their recruiting efforts (e.g., by participating in virtual college fairs and delivering online information sessions for interested students). While the 2016 and 2011 data on this indicator are not fully comparable, they suggest an upward trend.

The percentage of institutions that provide scholarships or other financial aid for undergraduate international students increased by eleven percentage points to just under half (49 percent), while the proportion offering funding to graduate international students increased from 24 percent to 30 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter is much more common among doctoral and master’s universities than at institutions in the other three sectors.

A markedly higher percentage of institutions are engaging overseas student recruiters (agents) than in 2011. Though undergraduate recruiting is again the primary focus, as illustrated in Figure 12, for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the percentage of institutions providing funding for recruiting agents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016. For both student populations, master’s institutions engage agents at higher rates than colleges and universities in other sectors.

Follow this link to download the report

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Open Doors 2016: Viet Nam Ranks 6th

According to the latest Open Doors (OD) report on international educational exchange, released today by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to kick off International Education Week (IEW), there were over 1 million international students studying in the US in 2015/16.  NOTE:  In contrast to the SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly updates, the OD data are always one-year old and limited to institutions of higher education. 

Viet Nam ranks 6th with the second highest percentage increase (14.3%) – after India (24.9%). 

Among the top 10 places of origin, only three (3) recorded substantial increases, including India, Viet Nam, and China (8.1%).  Japan remained the same and Taiwan increased by less than 1% while four(4) countries sent fewer students to the US:  Brazil (-18.2%), South Korea (-4.2%), Mexico (-1.9%) and Canada (-1%).  Declining enrollment among a number of the top 20 sending countries could very well continue and, in some cases, accelerate, during a Trump administration.

TOP 10 PLACES OF ORIGIN OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, 2014/15 & 2015/16
Rank Place of Origin 2014/15 2015/16 % of Total % Change
  WORLD TOTAL 974,926 1,043,839 100.0 7.1
1 China 304,040 328,547 31.5 8.1
2 India 132,888 165,918 15.9 24.9
3 Saudi Arabia 59,945 61,287 5.9 2.2
4 South Korea 63,710 61,007 5.8 -4.2
5 Canada 27,240 26,973 2.6 -1.0
6 Viet Nam 18,722 21,403 2.1 14.3
7 Taiwan 20,993 21,127 2.0 0.6
8 Brazil 23,675 19,370 1.9 -18.2
9 Japan 19,064 19,060 1.8 0.0
10 Mexico 17,052 16,733 1.6 -1.9

Not surprisingly, Viet Nam remains a solid undergraduate market.  The breakdown by category is as follows: 

Undergraduate – 67.23%
Graduate – 15.09%
Non-Degree – 9.8%
OPT (Optional Practical Training) – 7.8%

The top fields of study among Vietnamese students are – in descending order:

  • Business/Management:  29.8%
  • Social Sciences:  10.6%
  • Intensive English:  9.8%
  • Engineering:  9.6%
  • Math/Computer Science:  8.8%
  • Other/Undecided:  8.4%
  • Physical/Life Sciences:  5.1%
  • Fine/Applied Arts:  3.9%
  • Health Professions:  3.8%
  • Education:  1.2%
  • Humanities:  1.1%

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Recruitment Beyond China: Lower-Middle-Income Countries Show Promise

Recruitment strategies that focus on lower-middle-income countries, many of which are home to an upwardly mobile, aspiring middle class, are particularly important for institutions that are outside the top-tier. Research by WES shows that outbound students from these countries, especially those at key inflection points in their academic careers, tend to prioritize career opportunities over reputation when choosing where to study.

WES logoIn this excellent and timely WES (World Education Services) report on mobility trends Viet Nam is mentioned as one of four (4) lower-middle-income countries that are a “rising force in international enrollments.”

Among the highlights is this section entitled New Students; New Motivations.

Given that lower-middle-income countries have begun to emerge as viable sources of qualified students institutions need to understand student motivations and to design their recruitment strategies accordingly.

WES conducted a survey last year in an effort to better understand how international students choose institutions.  It revealed some key characteristics that distinguish students from lower-middle-income countries from those in their wealthier counterparts.

  • They do not view college rankings as a primary deciding factor in deciding where to apply. 
  • They view career prospects after graduation as a higher priority than any other country income group.
  • They are price sensitive, but weigh long-term earning potential (the ROI of their investment in education) heavily. 
  • They place a high value on career services.

Another one of the findings was that students from lower-middle-income countries tend to apply to a higher number of institutions than their counterparts from wealthier nations.  As the report noted, This lack of commitment increases competition for enrollments, but it also creates opportunities for institutions that are able to differentiate themselves.

A number of the results reflect the current situation in Viet Nam, which means that this report is recommended reading for colleagues whose institutions have targeted Viet Nam as a priority country.

Follow this link to read the report in its entirety.

MAA

 

Happy Planet Index: Viet Nam Ranks 5th Overall & 2nd in Asia Pacific

Vietnam ranks fifth in the Happy Planet Index results, and second in the Asia Pacific region. This Southeast Asian country, characterised by its mountains and tropical forests, has a strikingly low Ecological Footprint and economic output per head almost 24 times smaller than nearby Hong Kong. Vietnam is one of just three countries in the top ten Happy Planet Index rankings with an Ecological Footprint that is small enough to be considered environmentally sustainable.

The Happy Planet Index measures what matters: sustainable well-being for all. It tells us how well nations are doing at achieving long, happy, sustainable lives.

static1.squarespace.comWealthy Western countries, often seen as the standard of success, do not rank highly on the Happy Planet Index (HPI).  Instead, several countries in Latin America and the Asia Pacific region lead the way by achieving high life expectancy and well-being with much smaller Ecological Footprints.

The Happy Planet Index provides a compass to guide nations, and shows that it is possible to live good lives without costing the Earth.

Source:  About the HPI

Follow this link to read the entire Viet Nam report.

MAA

Vietnam Ranks 29th in Annual EF English Proficiency Index & 5th in Asia

 Vietnam is among the top performers in the region, ahead of Japan and China. Graphic: EF
Vietnam is among the top performers in the region, ahead of Japan and China. Graphic: EF

EF logoHere’s some more good news for Vietnam and colleagues from English-speaking countries who recruit here at the secondary and postsecondary levels.  According to the results of the EF (Education First) Proficiency Index, which profiles 70 countries, including 15 in Asia, Vietnam ranks 29th with “moderate proficiency” in English.  Last year, it ranked 33rd out of 63 non-native English-speaking countries.  Among Asian countries, Vietnam ranked higher than Cambodia, China, Japan and Thailand.  This will come as no surprise to those who have visited those countries or worked with their students.  For example, when you walk into a department store in Bangkok in what has been a middle-income country for quite some time – with many more socio-economic advantages than Vietnam – the staff will usually scramble to find the one person who can communicate in passable to good English with foreign customers.

Here are a couple of interesting findings from the Vietnam survey:

  • As in most countries, women speak better English than men.
  • Adults in Hanoi are somewhat more proficient in English than those in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

As the survey points out, research shows that better English correlates with higher income and better quality of life.  Since English is an international language, it also allows its speakers to tap into an international network of information and knowledge, as well as develop relationships with an estimated half a billion people whose native language is English or who speak it as a foreign language.

Why is Vietnam making so much progress so quickly?  The sheer number of number of young people, including children, who are studying English, the growing ability to pay for instruction at proprietary centers, combined with opportunities to practice English, the result of Vietnam’s integration into the global economy.

These impressive increases in the English proficiency of growing numbers of Vietnamese bode well for the country’s development, as well as the career prospects of those who are able to communicate in this important language.

If you want to read the “Monarch notes” version of the results, check out this article.  The original report can be found here.

MAA