This week, Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company that I co-founded in 2009 and of which I am managing director, celebrated its 9th birthday. It has been a helluva ride, one I’ve found to be deeply rewarding on many levels.
As I mentioned to a colleague the other day, the best situation is when you are able to exploit your own labor rather than have to sell it to someone else and allow them to exploit it (you), to paraphrase Karl Marx. More about that in this 2017 interview.
Looking forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary and 10 years of Reaching New Heights in September 2019!
There is never a dull moment in the dynamic Southeast Asian country of Viet Nam, including among its overseas-bound students. While overall interest in study in the US remains strong, there is also ample evidence of a shift to other countries, including Canada.
A growing number of educational institutions are turning to in country, including regional, representatives to assist them with international student recruitment. While this option obviously costs more than other recruitment tools and techniques because it includes the cost of a local salary, benefits (?), and other expenses, including travel and marketing, it can potentially be more productive. It all depends on your representative, her/his skill, network, and a variety of market conditions.
There are basically two models from which to choose:
An Independent Consultant: You hire someone, ideally, a host country national who speaks the language, perhaps has studied overseas, and has a good education-related network. Your rep essentially works at home, which saves your institution money. You pay her/him directly via international wire transfer. Sounds simple, right?
An Outsourced Consultant: A host country national who is employed by a legally licensed company but who represents your institution exclusively. The Viet Nam-based employer assumes legal responsibility for your representative and handles payroll and other administrative issues, in addition to providing “supervision lite”, and offering strategic advice.
The main difference between the two models is that the first is technically illegal while the second is legal. Regarding the former: is anyone ever going to call you on it? Probably not but they could – either within Viet Nam or from abroad.
The problem is that foreign entities are not permitted to operate in Viet Nam without an official (read legal) presence, i.e., a license. Consider this food for thought for those who currently employ an independent consultant from afar, or are considering doing so.
This matter-of-fact assertion does not (and should not) come as a surprise to US colleagues who recruit internationally. Here’s a recent story that inspired this post, so to speak, plus a heartfelt appeal.
I noticed that a number of students had applied to, been admitted by, and received visas to attend a particular school in the US. This interest was the result of a couple of public events and, of course, what the school has to offer, including solid academics and attractive scholarships for qualified and deserving students.
Amazingly, there would have been one more student but she withdrew her application because of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on 14 February 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Her parents decided not to send her to study in the US. (Maybe the USA’s loss is Canada’s gain, in this case?) So, yes, safety, as an essential element of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a primary concern among parents, as it is for all of us. The writing is on the recruitment wall and those of us who help international students study in the US ignore it at our collective peril.
While the number of young Vietnamese studying in the US is still healthy, these cases give one pause. You might say that this one student is insignificant because there were 31,613 Vietnamese students in the US, as of March 2018, but there are signs that others are following suit. For example, there are about 15,000 Vietnamese students in Canada, nearly half as many as there are in the US, a country with nine times the population and thousands more educational institutions.
Remarkably, Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase in 2017 at 89%, making Viet Nam the fastest growing market in the country. Canada is now a top five host country for Vietnamese students, after Japan, the USA, and Australia, followed by China.
While US education, both secondary and postsecondary, is still a brand, it no longer sells itself. Current news, e.g., the mass shooting du jour, a relatively high student visa denial rate, the latest policy announcement to require social media information from all visa applicants for the past five (5) years, the latest missile strike, and a roiling cauldron of perceptions (and misperceptions) can have a decisive impact on where a young person studies.
Do You Have Any I HEART Vietnamese Students Stories?
I’ve heard stories from many colleagues about how much they value and appreciate Vietnamese students, not only for the financial contributions they make to their host institution and the communities in which they are located, but their academic performance, their integration into the campus community, their leadership qualities, and their positive attitude.
I would like ask those of you who have worked with Vietnamese students and have such a story share it with me in a 750-word essay, including photos and quotes, if possible. I will take some of these essays and incorporate material into an article about Vietnamese students. I would also like to translate some into Vietnamese and share them widely. By doing this, you will be helping to promote study in the USA in Viet Nam and, indirectly, promoting your institution. Now more than ever is the time to show them (more) love.
Please contact me at markashwill[AT]capstonevietnam.com, if you’re interested in contributing an essay.
…including Australia, Canada, and the USA! Those countries also happen to be the world’s leading hosts of international students, albeit in this order: 1) USA; 2) Australia; and 3) Canada, followed by the UK and Germany.
Of the estimated 200,000 Vietnamese students studying overseas, 23,000 are in Australia (PDF download), about 15,000 are in Canada, and 31,613 are in the US. Japan is the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students with 61,671 in 2017. This means 131,284, or two-thirds, of all Vietnamese studying overseas are in the top four (4) host countries.
This was the original title of my latest University World News article. Why? Because overseas study is not a zero-sum game or a black & white issue but rather a complex and technicolor phenomenon with many different forces at work, including push and pull factors.
While it’s true that growing numbers of Vietnamese student are choosing Canada as an overseas study destination for the reasons I mention in the article, the USA remains a top destination, along with Australia and the UK, among the English-speaking countries. The top six (6) leading host countries for Vietnamese students are Japan, the USA, Australia, Canada, China, and the UK.
Vietnamese get most of their information from online sources, including social media, primarily Facebook. They also watch a lot of video, 2 hours, 43 minutes a day, to be precise, according to the results of the annual We Are Social and Hootsuite update. As a result, YouTube ranks 4th among all websites in Viet Nam, according to SimilarWeb. It is for this reason that videos should be an integral part of any digital marketing campaign.
I see a lot of online videos intended to promote various educational institutions but not very many quality ones that young people, i.e., potential international students, would actually watch. In all honesty, most fall into the bad and ugly categories. Here are two examples. It would be best to illustrate my points by showing you real videos but that’s not possible, for obvious reasons, the most important of which I would not want to embarrass the offending parties.
Low quality content: A lot of videos I see are of the talking head variety. Either students are sitting or standing in one location talking about their school and related experiences, or someone is interviewing them using a talk show format.
In one video, the students being interviewed looked like prisoners, sitting with hands folder, and dutifully answering question after question. In another, a student was obviously reading off of a script and looking into the camera with the occasional nervous smile. Not convincing, invariably boring and, sometimes, painful, to watch.
Vietnamese students will click on the link, watch for a second or two, and then quickly move elsewhere in search of more inspirational, educational, and/or meaningful content.
Poor sound quality: Content aside, many videos are not professional or even semi-professional. Either staff or students are using substandard equipment and do not have experience making videos for the demographic in question. It’s like with photography. Everyone with a smartphone is a “photographer” but very few know how to take good photos worth looking at.
Nas Daily is an example from Facebook that I often share with colleagues. His daily one-minute videos are crisp, fast-paced, and a pleasure to watch and listen to with commentary, interviews, and background music. He has over 5.8 million followers and over a billion views, which means he must be doing something right. The point is his videos are worth watching.