Enrollment of Vietnamese Students at US Universities & Colleges Up by 640% Since 2001/02


According to Open Doors data, the number of international students in the U.S. universities and colleges from 2001/02 to 2014/15 increased by 67% to reach nearly 975,000 students. That increase for Viet Nam was 640%, which places it among the top five sending countries that have experienced a growth rate of over 100%.

As the authors of this analysis point out, the solid growth illustrates the post-9/11 resilience of US institutions of higher education among international students.  Whether or not this trend continues may be decided by the results of the upcoming presidential election.

For more information, follow this link to post on DrEducation’s website, based on this 11 September 2016 Forbes article.  Keep up the good work, Rahul!


Vietnamese student numbers growing in the US

Below is an excerpt from my recent University World News (UWN) article.  Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.


Top 10 Countries of Citizenship 11-15

There are currently 1.2 million international students studying in the United States, nearly 75% of whom are enrolled in bachelor, masters or doctoral programmes. California, New York and Texas enrol 36% of all students. Some 919,484 of them, or 77% of the total, are from Asia. Compared to July 2015, the total number of active international students studying in the US increased 13.3%.

These figures are from the latest SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update published in December. Unlike the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors statistics, which are based on data collected the previous year and include higher education enrolment only, SEVIS data are real-time and encompass all levels of the educational system.

Spotlight on Vietnam

One of the shining highlights of the SEVIS report is the breakneck growth in Vietnamese enrolments at all levels of the US educational system, especially at its colleges and universities.

Vietnam has surpassed Japan in total enrolment. It recorded an astounding 18.9% increase from July to November 2015, the third highest after India (20.7%) and China (19.4%).

Incredibly, Vietnam now ranks sixth among all sending countries with 28,883 students studying at US institutions, mostly colleges and universities but also boarding and day schools.

Vietnam is also nipping at the heels of Canada, something that was unimaginable seven years ago when it was not even in the top 10. It climbed to eighth place in 2009 with 15,994 students and stayed there until the end of 2015.

The US has surpassed Australia in terms of numbers of Vietnamese students as there were 28,524 Vietnamese students studying in Australia at all levels as of October 2015, a 0.4% decrease over the previous year.

Interestingly, 54.7% of all Vietnamese students in the US are female and 45.3% male. That’s a difference of nearly 2,700 students.

In terms of degree-related programmes, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Language Training: 12.9% (3,732)
  • Associate: 27.9% (8,050)
  • Bachelor: 31.1% (8,976)
  • Masters: 8.1% (2,330)
  • Doctorate: 4% (1,159)

Taking Vietnam to the Next Level: The Role of Education


I recently had the opportunity to speak to members of UPCEA at its 100th annual conference and post-conference international briefing with a focus on Southeast Asia: Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam – Higher Education in Context.  The University Professional & Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education in the US.

Below a description of my international briefing presentation:

speaker2015 is a year of several noteworthy anniversaries in Vietnam of historical and personal significance.  40 years since the end of the war, 20 years since the normalization of relations between Vietnam and the US and 10 years since I moved to Hanoi.

This presentation will include information, insights and observations gleaned from nearly a decade of living and working in Vietnam as an educational entrepreneur, first for a US international education NGO whose slogan is Opening Minds to the World and, since 2009, for a Vietnamese educational consulting company whose slogan is Reaching New Heights.

The theme of the discussion is “taking Vietnam to the next level” – innovation over imitation, substance over image, veracity over veneer – and the contributions that education can make, including international educational exchange.  The latter includes student recruitment, student and faculty exchanges, study abroad programs, service learning and internships, education and training programs, including online, etc.

Vietnam is a country on the move.  Daunting obstacles overcome. Suffering redeemed. Phenomenal progress achieved. New summits yet to be conquered.  How can your institution benefit from incorporating Vietnam into its internationalization strategy?  What contributions can you make to help take Vietnam to the next level under the rubric of global service and in the spirit of doing well and doing good?

Jill Biden, one of my fellow speakers and wife of US Vice President Joe Biden.
Dr. Jill Biden, one of my fellow speakers and wife of US Vice President Joe Biden. Dr. Biden was the conference keynote speaker.

I also spoke at an innovation roundtable named after my blog (with an extra dose of “intrigue”!) and at a meeting of the UPCEA International Network about student recruitment in Vietnam.  Thank you, UPCEA, for the opportunity to speak to your members about two of my favorite topics, international education and Vietnam!





“Dear International Students: Thanks for Your Tuition. Now Go Home. Love, Uncle Sam.”

When President Obama announced his executive action on immigration in November, millions of undocumented people welcomed the expanded protections that the reform offered. What grabbed headlines abroad, however, were minor tweaks to visa policies—revisions that are likely to affect as many as 256,000 foreign workers in the U.S. But these changes don’t come close to making sense of the immigration system for foreign students, who study in American universities and who are kicked out before they have a chance to work in or contribute to U.S. society.

Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images (Courtesy of New Republic)
Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images (Courtesy of New Republic)

Thus begins this excellent piece by Claire Groden, which appeared in the 2 December 2014 edition of New Republic.  Hers is an important topic that I’ve discussed here and elsewhere.  The US population is graying at a steady pace with a current median age of 37.6 years (36.3 male – 39 female), almost on par with Canada, at 41.7.  In the not too distant future it will resemble Germany and Japan, with median ages of 47.2 and 47.5, respectively.  This is yet another compelling justification for recruiting more international students and encouraging some to stay, in addition to diversity, i.e., bringing the world to domestic students, and revenue.

As of 2013, the US had 45,785,090 immigrants, which amounted to 14.3% of its population and 19.8% of immigrants worldwide, according to the United Nations report Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2013 Revision.  Immigrants, especially those who are highly educated and skilled, among them international graduates of US colleges and universities, are the lifeblood of the US economy in some sectors.  The country desperately needs a certain percent of them to remain for the long-term, if not for the rest of their lives.

In Attracting International Students:  Can American Higher Education Maintain Its Leadership?, Rahul Choudaha notes that the popularity of the US as a host country for international students has been waning in recent years.  (Some of the reasons for this are clear, including the perils associated with resting on one’s laurels and the lack of a national internationalization strategy.)  While it remains the leading destination in terms of numbers, with 886,052 international students in 2013/14, an increase of 55% from 2003/04, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE), the post-9/11 US market share declined from 23% in 2000 to 16% in 2012.  The UK and Australia have attracted growing numbers of international students.

Canada, a country with 35 million citizens and about 100 postsecondary institutions, has seen the number of its international students jump 84% in 10 years, to 293,505 in 2013, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, and OECD figures show that Canada’s share of the world’s students has increased from 4.5 percent in 2000 to 4.9 percent in 2012.  As this September 2014 Inside Higher Ed article points out, the fact is that “both the federal and provincial governments are paying increasing attention to international student recruitment as part of a broader skilled immigration strategy.”  It’s a lesson the US government would be well-advised to learn from its neighbor to the north.

Finally, as I mentioned in this 2012 post, “Patent Pending: How Immigrants Are Reinventing The American Economy”, support for visa policy reform has come from the most unlikely of places, The White House.  In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama made two references to international students.  The first, not surprisingly, was that the US is “home to the world’s best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth”.  The second, which offered another perspective on this ongoing debate, was about international students who end up competing against the US and the need to allow some of them to remain.

One last point about education.  Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens…  Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities.  But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us.  It makes no sense.




Over 23,000 Vietnamese Students in the US!

sevis banner2While the Open Doors 2014 numbers are impressive, the latest SEVIS by the Numbers statistics are remarkable.  As of  last month, i.e., the current fall term, there were 23,407 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels.  That represents an astounding 21% increase since July 2014, second only to China (22%).  This means that Vietnam is one of the fastest growing markets in the world for US-bound international students.  Why?  In a nutshell, growing ability to pay and increases at both the postsecondary and secondary levels.

SEVIS by the Numbers (PDF download – October 2014) is a statistical summary report produced using data compiled from SEVIS.  The quarterly review below is based on information retrieved on 7 October 2014.  The last update was in July 2014, when there’s usually a dip in the numbers because of June graduation.

SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) came online in 2003 to track and monitor the status nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors who enter the U.S.  This web-based system collects real-time information on these two groups, plus approved schools and program sponsors.

The data encompass the following education and training visa categories:

  • F-1:  international students who pursue a full course of academic study in a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program)-certified school
  • M-1:  international students who pursue a full course of study at a SEVP-certified vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than language training programs)
  • J-1:  nonimmigrants approved to participate in work- and study-based exchange visitor programs (e.g., Fulbright, Vietnam Education Foundation/VEF)

Why SEVIS by the Numbers is More Useful Than Open Doors

One of the reasons I prefer these updates is that the data are real-time not a year old, as with the IIE’s annual Open Doors international academic mobility reports, mentioned in the previous post.  Another difference is the SEVIS reports include all levels and types of education and training, while Open Doors only includes information about regionally accredited institutions of higher education.  In short, the SEVIS updates offer an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of international enrollment trends in the US higher and secondary educational systems.  It would be helpful if the report separated the postsecondary from the secondary statistics but I’m guessing that would require a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Vietnam Remains in 8th Place With a Sharp Three-Month Increase

30% of all F & M students are from China (i.e., 329,927), followed by 12% from India.    Rounding out the top ten are South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam (#8), Mexico and Brazil.

top 10 countries of citizenship (10-14)

Vietnam continues to lead the third tier of “top ten” countries.  (China is in a league of its own, statistically speaking.)  My guess remains unchanged, namely, that Vietnam will surpass Taiwan and Japan in the next few years.

places of origin 10-14 compared to 7-14

Other Highlights

  • Since July 2014, the total number of SEVIS records for active F & M students, exchange visitors and their dependents increased by 8.98 percent, from 1,345,276 to 1,466,102.
  • 73% of active students are enrolled in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs.
  • 36% of all international students are in California (188,558), New York (128,573) and Texas (77,906).  (The top three states for Vietnamese students are CA, TX and WA with significant concentrations several other states.)
  • Business, Management, Marketing are still the most popular majors with an enrollment of just over 200,000.
  • 47% of all F & M students enrolled in computer and information sciences and support services programs are from India.
  • There was a 40% increase in the number of all F & M students enrolled in secondary school degree programs since July 2014.
  • 56% of all international students are male.
  • 27% of all SEVP-approved schools are in CA, NY, and FL.  (Note: “An approved school may offer several levels of education from pre-school, elementary, high school, to post-secondary education level.”)
  • Of SEVIS-approved schools with active students, the visa distribution is as follows: 76%/F & M; 13.7%/J.

Finally, here is a graphic that looks at places of origin in Asia for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) F & M students.  22% of all Vietnamese students are in STEM fields.

Places of origin - Asian STEM F & M students


Vietnam Remains in 8th Place; Steady Growth Continues, According to Latest IIE Open Doors Report

open-doors-2014-2.gifAccording to the Open Doors 2014 report, released today, Vietnam ranks 8th among all sending countries.  There are now 16,579 young Vietnamese studying in the US, a modest 3% increase over the previous year (16,098).  (Keep in mind that Open Doors data are from the fall semester of the previous academic year while the SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly updates reflect real-time data at all levels.)

Overall, there were 886,052 international students in the US in 2013/14, including 105,997 in Optional Practical Training (OPT). That’s an 8.1% increase over 2012/13.  International students comprise 4.2% of the total US higher education enrollment of 21,216,000.

Vietnam was one of seven (7) top 10 countries to post an increase last year.  South Korea (3rd), Taiwan (6th), and Japan (7th) each saw the number of their US-bound students decline.  My guess is that Vietnam will surpass Japan and Taiwan within a few years.

Not surprisingly, the number of Chinese students increased by 16.5%; they now comprise 31% of all international students in the US. (That’s 1 in 3, rounded up!)  This makes it all the more difficult for US colleges and universities to diversify their international student populations.  I applaud those that have made the strategic decision to pick less of the low-hanging fruit and to step up their recruitment efforts in other countries, including Vietnam.

iie-logoThe Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published by the Institute of International Education, which has conducted an annual statistical survey of campuses regarding the international students in the United States since 1919, and with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s. The census is based on a survey of approximately 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions.

2012/13 – 2013/14

Rank Place of Origin 2012/13 2013/14 2013/14 % of Total Change
WORLD TOTAL 819,644 886,052 100.0 8.1
1 China 235,597 274,439 31.0 16.5
2 India 96,754 102,673 11.6 6.1
3 South Korea 70,627 68,047 7.7 -3.7
4 Saudi Arabia 44,566 53,919 6.1 21.0
5 Canada 27,357 28,304 3.2 3.5
6 Taiwan 21,867 21,266 2.4 -2.7
7 Japan 19,568 19,334 2.2 -1.2
8 Vietnam 16,098 16,579 1.9 3.0
9 Mexico 14,199 14,779 1.7 4.1
10 Brazil 10,868 13,286 1.5 22.2

Vietnam-Specific Highlights

  • 71.1% undergraduate; 15.5% graduate; 5.3% other; 7.5% OPT (Optional Practical Training)
  • 6th in undergraduate enrollment
  • 3rd in community college enrollment
  • 37% studying business/management, the highest percentage among the top 25 sending countries
  • 15.8% increase in students participating in OPT
  • 8% decrease in graduate students
  • 4.4% increase in undergraduates
  • 750% as many Vietnamese students in the US as in 2000
  • It is estimated that Vietnamese students contributed $543 million to the US economy last year.

Be sure to check out my companion post about the SEVIS by the Numbers update from last month, which contains more exciting news about Vietnamese enrollment in the US.


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.