The 7th “Engaging with Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue” Conference

 in combination with The First Vietnam-US Higher Education Forum

engaging with vn

I am pleased to share this announcement from the organizers of The 7th “Engaging with Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue” Conference in combination with The First Vietnam-US Higher Education Forum. This two-day event will attract Vietnam scholars and other experts from Vietnam and all over the world.  For the first time, there is a one-day pre-conference forum devoted to Vietnam-US higher education and I’m honored to be one of the speakers.

July 7-8, 2015

33A Pham Ngu Lao, Hanoi, Vietnam

Organization partners:

University of Hawaii at Manoa – USA

Hanoi University of Business and Technology- Vietnam

Portland State University – USA

In addition to the partners listed above, the forum and conference will be co-hosted by Monash University, the East-West Center, Thai Nguyen University, the University of Oregon and the US Mission Vietnam.
Sponsors include the Australian Embassy-Vietnam, the Australian Consulate-General in Honolulu, Vietnam Airlines and CJ Travel.

This year the 7th Engaging with Vietnam Conference will join the U.S. Mission and Vietnam partners in commemorating the past, present and future of relations between the two countries. The conference will dedicate day one day to the 1st Vietnam-US Higher Education Forum, which hopefully will be annual from now on. You are invited to this exciting two-day event this July in Hanoi!

Day 1: The 1st Vietnam-US Higher Education Forum

Theme: The Internationalization of Higher Education: Policies and Practices

Organizing Committee: Phan Le Ha (University of Hawaii at Manoa), Dang Van Huan (Portland State University), and Nguyen Ngoc Hung (Hanoi University of Business and Technology)

Presentations on Day 1 are solicited by invitation only. Attendance is open to all via registration on the website.

Day 2: The 7th Engaging with Vietnam Conference

Theme:  Knowledge Journeys and Journeying Knowledge

The Engaging with Vietnam conference series has been, since the time of its inception, interested in the production of knowledge about Vietnam. This interest stems from the realization that the knowledge that people produce about Vietnam depends on many factors, such as where people are located and what they know. Put simply, people inside of Vietnam and people outside of Vietnam approach the study of Vietnam with different ideas, and come to different conclusions. This dichotomy is then complicated by the fact that people inside of Vietnam journey to places outside of the country to study, and people from outside of Vietnam journey to Vietnam to study and conduct research.  These physical journeys lead to intellectual journeys that change people’s ideas, something that we can call “knowledge journeys.”

At the same time, academic theories from around the globe (China, France, Russia, North America, etc.) have journeyed all over the world in recent decades as well and have changed the way people think too. We can call these mobile theories “journeying knowledge.”

The Seventh Engaging With Vietnam – An Interdisciplinary Dialogue Conference seeks to examine both of these phenomena – knowledge journeys and journeying knowledge – in an effort to understand how they influence the way that people produce knowledge about Vietnam.

With this in mind, we would like to invite you to participate in the Seventh Engaging with Vietnam Conference. Please refer to the website for more details.

Engaging with Vietnam Founder:  Phan Le Ha

Conference Chairs and Convenors:  Phan Le Ha & Liam Kelley (University of Hawaii at Manoa) & Nguyen Ngoc Hung & Pham Sy Tien (Hanoi University of Business and Technology)

Foreign enrolment in German universities reaches record high

icef monitorYes, this is from July 2014 but it’s still interesting and worth sharing.  🙂  As someone who has spent considerable time in Germany, including as a student, I agree with points made in this ICEF Monitor article.

Germany ranked 10th among Vietnamese studying overseas in 2013 with 4,600 students.  Since there are not many young Vietnamese studying German, despite the best efforts of the Goethe Institute in Hanoi and the German Mission in Vietnam, the growth in the number of programs offered in English will give more Vietnamese students the opportunity to study in Germany.

Below is an excerpt.  Follow this link to read the rest of the article.


Germany is well on its way to an ambitious goal of hosting 350,000 foreign university students by 2020. The latest figures released this month by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) reveal that 300,909 foreign students were enrolled in German universities in 2013/14, representing roughly 10% of the total higher education enrolment in Germany this year. This compares to 282,000 international students in 2013, and is up from 246,000 students a decade ago.

This growing enrolment base places Germany among the top study destinations in the world, after the US and UK certainly, but contending with China, France, and Australia for the number three rank among major global destinations.

”Germany is an exceptionally attractive place to study and research. This is also the result of our global information and marketing activities for higher education in Germany,” said DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. DAAD maintains a network of 70 branch offices worldwide and supports a wide network of lecturers and German studies centres as well.

DAAD reports that engineering degrees and graduate studies are some of the areas of greatest demand. Roughly 55% of Germany’s international students are from Europe. Another 30% are from Asia and 6% come from North America. The prospect of learning German may be daunting for some but the challenge is eased by the fact that as many as 1,600 programmes at German universities are taught in English.

As is the case for other major destinations, China is the number one source of foreign students in Germany. However, German institutions are reporting strong enrolment growth from South Asia – India and Bangladesh in particular – as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Speaking to Student World Online, Chinese student Tianjue Li said, “People enjoy an outstanding quality of life here, with food security, a clean environment, well-covered health insurance, freedom of speech, etc. Yet the reason why a great number of Chinese students go abroad for study is mainly because of their dissatisfaction with the domestic education system, the leading standard of higher education in Western countries, and the globalisation in China right now.”

German Education Minister Johanna Wanka echoes Tianjue Li’s point regarding the importance of internationalisation: “Excellent education needs international exchange and the basis for that are universities which are open to the world and in which everyone from professors to administrators to students provides a welcoming environment.”

A commitment to affordability

Germany certainly qualifies as welcoming. Education News notes that the vast majority of university students in Germany attend public institutions, where tuition fees are either strikingly affordable or non-existent. “A German student at a public university will pay US$300 to US$2,000 in fees,” notes Education News. “A four-year public college in the US will charge US$8,893 for in-state students and US$22,203 for out-of-state students…In Germany, tuition fees are not applicable. In 2005, several German state universities tried to charge tuition fees, albeit small ones, but the public voted it down. The only universities that still charge tuition will stop doing so at the end of 2014.”

Dr Herbert Grieshop of Freie Universität Berlin speaks to the different motivations that German institutions have to build their international student numbers: “Despite the fact that we don’t charge fees in Germany – and therefore don’t have any financial gains from foreign students – we actively recruit internationally, particularly at Master’s and Doctoral level. We believe that internationalisation of teaching, research and of our campus as a whole is a step forward and will also help to solve the demographic issue that universities in Germany will have to face rather soon.”

DAAD notes that even with the minimal fees charged, the economic impact of the sector is nevertheless substantial. Foreign students in Germany spent an estimated €1.5 billion in 2011, and generated tax revenues of roughly €400 million.

US Poised for More Active Student Recruitment

Below is an excerpt from a recent ICEF Monitor article that touches on a number of trends and factors that will contribute to increased activity in international student recruitment in the years to come.  Related to that, I look forward to seeing NACAC’s “best practices guide” for working with commissioned agents in a couple of months.


Already the world’s leading destination for international students, the United States is set to become a more active recruiter of international students. In today’s ICEF Monitor post, we look at what is driving this trend, and examine the latest data on key source markets for America’s still-growing population of international students.

icef monitorAlready the world’s leading destination for international students, the United States is set to become a more active recruiter of international students. In today’s ICEF Monitor post, we look at what is driving this trend, and examine the latest data on key source markets for America’s still-growing population of international students.

Domestic enrolment expected to slow

According to the US Department of Education, college enrolment growth will slow through 2022. In a report released earlier this year, Projections of Education Statistics to 2022, the department forecasts that college enrolment will increase by 14% between the fall of 2011 and 2022. Nevertheless, this rate of growth is significantly less than the 45% increase observed during the previous 14-year period.

Predictions such as these are only expected to fuel the interest of American institutions in recruiting international students in the years ahead. Indeed, international enrolments already help offset flat – and even declining – interest domestically in some disciplines at the graduate level, and also help cushion the blow of budget cuts at some US colleges and universities.

Use of international education agents expected to rise

Another factor that will likely drive more active international recruitment by US institutions going forward is an expected increase in the use of education agents. As we reported previously, the National Association for College Admission Counselling (NACAC) has removed its ban on American colleges using commissioned agents in international student recruitment. The new requirements are scheduled to take effect after a one-year moratorium during which NACAC’s International Advisory Committee will develop a “best practices guide” for working with commissioned agents. It is expected that the guide will be presented at this year’s NACAC Assembly (Indianapolis, 18-20 September 2014).

Follow this link to read the rest of the article.

Of Emigration, Brain Drain & Brain Gain: Some Reflections

Over the years, I’ve known and helped many young Vietnamese who have studied overseas.  Some I knew in passing; others became friends.  Quite a few made the decision to remain overseas either in the country in which they studied or a third country.  By doing so, they slowly but surely began the transformation from Vietnamese national to Việt kiều (overseas Vietnamese).


I think of the implications of this more now that I am living in their (home) country, some in mine and others elsewhere.  I have the gnawing feeling that another country’s (brain) gain is Vietnam’s loss and on glass is half empty days I can’t help feeling that Vietnam would be a better place in some ways, if some had remained.

On the other hand (and perhaps from a more rational perspective), I know that many would not be where they are now, academically, personally and professionally, were it not for the opportunities afforded them by U.S. and other foreign institutions of higher education and economies, opportunities not yet available in Vietnam.  I also know that many of them contribute to Vietnam as cultural ambassadors, and through a sharing of expertise and remittances, which reached a record $11 billion last year.  Some lose touch with their home country network, find their niche, including a great job opportunity, fall in love, or all of the above.  These are a few of the reasons they choose to remain.

[Interestingly, Vietnam is a “top ten” country in three interrelated categories in 2013:  number of students in the U.S. (#8), number of immigrants to the U.S. (#5 after China – PDF download) and remittances (#9), according to the World Bank.  About 45% of all overseas Vietnamese live in the U.S.]

Contrary to the third pillar of U.S. student visa policy (i.e., plans to return to one’s home country after graduation or an OPT experience), emigration is a personal decision and indeed a universal human right.  As a side note, the U.S. and other countries with graying populations desperately need a certain percentage of international students to remain and make important contributions to the economy and society-at-large.  (Of course, many do; it’s just not policy yet.  We’re is still at the wink-and-nod stage.)  Political and business leaders at the highest levels, including President Obama, are finally coming to this realization.  My prediction:  there will be some fundamental changes in U.S. student visa policy in the not too distant future.

The encouraging reality is there are many young Vietnamese who have had neither the desire nor the opportunity to study overseas who are taking up the slack.  They are smart, ambitious, connected, proficient in key foreign languages and determined.  Some of them are better qualified on a number of levels than some of their foreign-educated peers.  They give me hope for the future of Vietnam.

departure-signAnother hopeful reality is that a growing number of Vietnamese are returning home after graduation or a work experience.  (This is based on my observations and anecdotal evidence; unfortunately, there is no official source for this information.)  In addition, many overseas Vietnamese are “coming home” and a growing number of foreigners have decided to make Vietnam their home for the long-term.  (Follow this link to read a relevant blog post written by a young Vietnamese-American who has been living in HCMC for seven years.)  Both groups are part of a phenomenon known as brain circulation, defined as “the circular movement of skilled labor across nations.”  They are working in collaboration with foreign- and domestically-Vietnamese and in a variety of sectors and fields to create a better Vietnam.

Your thoughts?


Vietnam: Trends in International and Domestic Education (repost)

By Nick Clark, Editor, World Education News & Reviews

WES logoVietnam is currently one of the fastest growing sources of international students for U.S. institutions of higher education, according to data from the Institute for International Education. In academic year 2011/12, Vietnam was the eighth largest sender of tertiary students to the United States, behind Japan in 7th and ahead of Mexico in 9th. Since the turn of the century, numbers have jumped from just over 2,000 students to more than 15,500 in 2012 – or by 675 percent – with especially significant increases in the years between 2005 and 2010.

While the pace of enrollment growth has slowed somewhat since 2010, a number of factors suggest that Vietnam will continue to be an important market for institutions looking to diversify their international student body. The primary drivers compelling Vietnamese students to look overseas for tertiary education are under-capacity and generally poor standards in domestic provision, and an economy that saw impressive growth, driven by low-cost manufacturing, prior to the global economic slowdown.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

The College of St. Scholastica Comes to Vietnam

Omnes semitae eius pacificae, which means All Her Paths Are Peace. (From the CSS College Crest)

CSS logoIt’s unusual for a US institution of higher education to send a delegation consisting of its president, a dean and a director of international education to Vietnam.  For an entire week.  But that’s exactly what The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) did in March.  CSS, which was founded in 1912, is a Catholic (Benedictine) institution located in Duluth, Minnesota (MN), where it is situated in a 200-acre forest overlooking Lake Superior.  U.S. News & World Report magazine consistently ranks the college among the best colleges and universities in the region for academic excellence.  The Washington Post named St. Scholastica one of the “hidden gems” in US higher education based on rankings done by college advisors from across the country.  Here are some more CSS facts and figures:

  • programs in the sciences, management, international business, psychology, mathematics, computer information science, economics, communications, marketing, business, social work and many other traditional liberal arts and humanities majors
  • total enrollment of 4,100 students across five campuses in MN evenly divided between traditional undergraduates in Duluth and non-traditional students in graduate programs, accelerated evening programs and online programs at all five campuses
  • 140 students from more than 40 countries

Who and Why

  • Dr. Larry Goodwin, President
  • Dr. Kurt Linberg, Dean, School of Business and Technology
  • Mr. Thomas Homan, Director of International Education
Dr. Goodwin speaking with students at Dinh Thien Ly School in HCMC.
IMG_0522 (resized)
After a meeting at Ton Duc Thang University in HCMC with Dr. Le Vinh Danh, President (middle), Mme Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Senior Advisor to University President and President of Institute for International Studies and Exchange (3rd from left) and staff.

 The purpose of their trip was “to gain a better understanding of the education landscape in Vietnam and the opportunities available not only to recruit students but also relative to study abroad opportunities for our own students and faculty.  Our hope is to come away with a better understanding of Vietnam, its institutions, its national and domestic concerns and its student populations.” 

As Dr. Goodwin wrote in an article that recently appeared in a college publication, this was more than a business trip; it was personal.  Forty three years ago I was a reluctant warrior stationed in Quang Tri just south of the DMZ, interrogating captured and wounded North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong at a brigade field hospital.  During my year deployment, I met ‘the enemy,’ men swept up, like me, in the unfolding struggle.  I spent three days with a high school mathematics teacher from Hanoi, a husband and father, with whom I might have been friends in other circumstances.  I saw grievously wounded men, one in my arms, die

Then a young soldier; now a seasoned educator.  This return was a chance to join two chapters of my life together, to connect me to myself.  I will be processing impressions and feelings for a long time, but one thing is already absolutely clear: This journey only deepened my conviction about the importance of the St. Scholastica mission.  Catholic Benedictine education is about the transformation of the human person; for us, education is a moral as well as an intellectual project.  Clear and critical thinking is important; so are imagination, compassion and courage.  Whole-person education really matters.  

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Dr. Goodwin speaking to students at the end of an information exchange in Capstone Vietnam’s HCMC office.
TV show taping. From left to right: Ha Quyen, host; Larry Goodwin; Tom Homan and Kurt Linberg.

The Schedule

My staff and I had the privilege of spending the entire week with our CSS colleagues.  For them it was the ultimate experiential learning opportunity, the bookends of which consisted of a HCMC airport pick-up on Saturday evening and a Hanoi departure Sunday a week later. 

During that time, they had a country briefing, met with an American high school teacher and his class at a well-known Vietnamese school, spoke with US Commercial Service colleagues in the Consulate General, visited the University of Economics – HCMC, Ton Duc Thang University, the Vietnam International Education Development (VIED) division of the Ministry of Education and Training, two Hanoi universities and two highly regarded high schools, along with meetings at the US Embassy, AmCham-Hanoi, and with a US expat who runs a successful software engineering firm. 

In addition, they participated in a TV show taping and an information exchange with students in Capstone’s HCMC office, as well as an information session for interested students and parents in our Hanoi office to wrap up the week.  Dr. Goodwin made a side trip to Quang Tri province via Hue that weekend while Dr. Linberg and Mr. Homan traveled to Ha Long Bay.

That eventful week was a crash course in Vietnamese society and culture that provided our colleagues with the opportunity to meet with a variety of people in the education and business sectors, all of which will help them decide what role Vietnam should play in the College’s internationalization strategy and what the next steps for CSS should be in Vietnam. 


Welcome to Readers of the ICEF Monitor

icef monitorWelcome to An International Educator in Vietnam, which I launched in November 2009.  If you look around my blog, you’ll soon find out why the subtitle is Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue.  Chances are you’re here because you read my guest post, Why Vietnam?  A Market Snapshot, the first of its kind to appear in the ICEF Monitor

For information about Capstone Vietnam, of which I’m managing director, and some upcoming events, including our fall 2013 StudyUSA Higher Education and Community College Fairs, follow these links.  The higher ed fairs will take place on September 15, 17 and 19 in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Danang and Hanoi, respectively, while the community colleges fairs will be held on September 29 and October 1, 3 and 5 in  Haiphong, Hanoi, Danang and HCMC. 

I look forward to hearing from you and meeting many of you at the NAFSA annual conference and other events.  Please feel free to drop me a line, if you have any questions.