“International Students Contribute to Our Economy & American Innovation”

This image, created by NAFSA:  Association of International Educators, a “non-profit professional organization for professionals in all areas of international education including education abroad advising and administration,” was recently posted on Facebook by a US higher education colleague. 

All compelling points with which I agree 100%.  In fact, they could create another graphic that lists more reasons for hosting international students and encouraging a certain percentage to remain, if they so desire.   

Here’s the problem though:  while this information appeals to reasonable and rational US Americans who either already have somewhat of a global outlook, or at least “get it” when it comes to the economics of hosting large numbers of international students, it falls on blind eyes and deaf ears when it comes to people like President Trump and many (most?) of his supporters. America First, remember?  Their words and actions, rather than making the US better than it is for all people, are accelerating its decline.

Why? Nativism and nationalism – in that order.  If you’re not sure what these words mean, don’t worry you’re in good company.  Many people with a Ph.D. after their name don’t know either.  Just read the articles linked from one or both of the words. 

MAA

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Viet Nam’s GDP & Study in the USA

Here are some graphs that I use in presentations to graphically illustrate Viet Nam’s meteoric economic rise in the past decade and then some.  The take-off phase began with my arrival in 2005, a mere coincidence, and perhaps an example of a word I often associate with Viet Nam, serendipity

The icing on the cake came in the form of a recent official report that revealed Viet Nam’s economy grew at the fastest rate in a decade, slightly above the government target of 6.7% and considerably higher than the 6.21% for 2016.  Much of the growth was driven by the agriculture, seafood and forestry sectors, according to the government’s General Statistics Office (GSO).

One thing to keep in mind, and that I never tire of mentioning, is that GDP growth doesn’t tell the whole story, much of which is occurring beneath the surface.  Since GDP is the total value of everything produced by all the people and companies in the country, both domestic and foreign, it doesn’t reflect total income and therefore total ability to pay. This doesn’t mean that all of this activity is illegal – some of it is the result of corruption, petty and massive – only that it is not factored into the aggregate GDP figure.

NOTE:  GDP data differ between different sources, i.e., the World Bank vs. the International Monetary Fund. 

vietnam-gdp
Source:  World Bank
444743
Source:  IMF

Not surprisingly, economic growth is closely linked to ability to pay, which is why the number of Vietnamese students studying overseas mirrors their country’s economic ascendancy. 

Compare the enrollment trends in the US below with the GDP graphs above.  Note:  Open Doors data are from fall 2016 and only for higher education.  According to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update from May 2017, there are 30,279 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels, mostly higher education.

enrollment trends
Source:  IIE Open Doors Reports

It is estimated that Vietnamese parents spend $3 billion on overseas study expenses for their children, a number commonly used in the media, but the actual figure is probably considerably higher.  Consider that families are already spending nearly $1 billion, rounded up, in the US alone.

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Viet Nam Ranks Among Top 10 Foreign Residential Property Buyers in the US

major foreign buyers in US
Source: 2017 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate, NAR

Yes, I know this is old news from the summer of 2017 but it’s related to some other recent posts and perhaps not so old for some of you with an interest in these issues and trends.  It’s also related to one of my favorite topics, young Vietnamese studying in the USA. 

According to the 2017 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate (PDF download), compiled by the National Association of (US) Realtors (NAR), Viet Nam ranked 9th in 2016-17, to be precise, after Germany with Japan rounding out the top 10.  Between April 2016 and March 2017, Vietnamese purchased about 5,689 residential properties in the US, double the number of transactions in the previous year. 

The total amount was an estimated $3 billion out of $153 billion worth of US residential property acquired by foreign investors during the same period.  (Non-resident foreign
buyers purchased $78.1 billion of property, while resident foreign buyers purchased $74.9 billion worth.)  Not surprisingly, based on where most Vietnamese-Americans live and other reasons, Vietnamese investors preferred California, Florida, and Texas. 

property2
Vietnam’s population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has the highest growth rate in the world. Source: Knight Frank

Reasons include the following:

  • one of the fastest-growing economies in the world
  • the fastest-growing percentage of ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the world between now and 2026, according to the The Wealth Report 2017 by Knight Frank
  • the Vietnamese tendency to hedge their bets in the face of perceived or actual instability
  • the high number of Vietnamese young people studying in the US and the desire of many parents of means to buy a place for them to stay and as an investment
  • the relatively high number of EB-5 cases (related to the above)

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“To many Vietnamese, US still a top overseas study destination in spite of Donald Trump”

vn students article

Check out the facts and figures on why so many students are heading state-side.

This is my latest English language article, written at the request of VNExpress International. I think it provides a pretty comprehensive update about the current situation for those with a personal and/or professional interest in the status of US-bound Vietnamese students.  (It’s an edited and expanded version of an article I wrote last July for University World News.)

Note the caveat in my concluding paragraph.  Why?  Because only God is perfect.  🙂

While the wave of interest in study in the U.S. will eventually break because of demographic and development-related factors, such as an aging population and an improvement in the quality of the domestic higher education system, demand is likely to continue to gain momentum, barring unforeseen political and economic circumstances. Since no one has a crystal ball, however, medium-term outcomes are anyone’s guess.

Here’s a link to the Vietnamese translation:  MỸ VẪN LÀ MỘT TRONG SỐ NHỮNG ĐIỂM ĐẾN DU HỌC HÀNG ĐẦU CỦA SINH VIÊN VIỆT NAM BẤT LUẬN ĐANG TRONG NHIỆM KÌ CỦA DONALD TRUMP

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Capstone Vietnam: Why This Education Entrepreneur Is Excited About Vietnam’s Future

vietcetera maa interviewHere’s an abridged version of a recent interview I did with Vietcetera, a “consortium of artists, writers, designers, photographers, musicians, technologists, and business people dedicated to a fresh look at an evolving Vietnam. Vietcetera seeks to find the untold human stories of the people that are contributing to a new, modern Vietnam. From design to business to architecture to film. We want to both give a new and youthful take on Vietnam that both local and foreigners can appreciate.”

Follow this link to read the interview

Vietnam climbs to seventh worldwide for number of Facebook users: report

top 10 countries FB

This is the latest top 10 ranking for Viet Nam and it’s extraordinary like the country itself, in many respects.  It was not that many years ago when Vietnamese Facebook accounts numbered in the hundreds of thousands.  What is especially striking is the 40% increase in only six months. 

In a population of about 96 million, rounded up, suffice it to say that Facebook is about to plateau, if it hasn’t already.  Yes, Facebook is the #1 website in Viet Nam, according to SimilarWeb and Facebook Messenger is the #1 chat app in a very crowded and competitive marketplace of chat apps.

Viet Nam is one of the reasons why Facebook earned $8.03 billion in revenue and $1.04 actual EPS in the first quarter of this year with nearly 2 billion users.

In its latest quarterly report, Facebook beat analyst expectations on profitability and on revenue for the ninth straight quarter.  Viet Nam is one of the reasons why total revenues were $9.32 billion, a 45% increase over last year’s second quarter.  The greatest contributing factor was mobile advertising.  (For better and for worse, just over 2 billion people, an estimated 27% of the entire human race, are on Facebook.)

If you want to advertise any product or service in Viet Nam, especially for young people but , increasingly, for their parents, too, you have to use Facebook.  This is one reason why Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth, which currently stands at $72.7 billion, making him the planet’s 5th-wealthiest person, will continue to increase.

MAA

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.