The Wave Continues to Build: Vietnamese Students in the USA

vn 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)

According to the latest Mapping SEVIS by the Numbers update from last month, there are currently 31,389 Vietnamese students in the US at all levels of the education system.  (2.59% of all international students in the US are from Viet Nam.)  

Viet Nam remains in 5th place sandwiched between Saudi Arabia, which experienced the sharpest decline among the top 10 sending countries, and Canada, which saw a small increase from May 2017.  

Country          May 2017       December 2017         
China                362,370          382.908                      
India                 206,708          212,288                      
S. Korea            71,206            68,128                        
Saudi Arabia   55,810            49,298                        
Viet Nam         30,279            31,389                        
Canada             29,536            30,034                        
Japan                24,837            24,809                        
Taiwan             22,803            24,110                        
Brazil                21,768            23,901                        
Mexico              16,207            16,212                        

Here are two changes from the end of the 2016/17 academic year to now that likely signal trends:

1)  A decrease in the percentage of Vietnamese students enrolled in “language training” from 10.7% to 8.5%.   

2)  An increase in the percentage of Vietnamese undergraduates enrolled in four-year schools from 29.7% to 31.8%.  (To put this in perspective, 90% of all Vietnamese undergrads in the US were enrolled in a community college in 2009/10.)  

level of study vn 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)

The top 10 host states remained the same.  The only change is that Pennsylvania displaced Florida.  Massachusetts, which remained in 4th place, saw the most significant increase. 

student population by state 12-17
Source:  SEVIS (DHS)
  1. CA: 6175
  2. TX: 5232
  3. WA: 2548
  4. MA: 1815
  5. NY: 1396
  6. PA: 1276
  7. FL: 1223
  8. IL: 967
  9. VA: 889
  10. GA: 712

While there are Vietnamese students in all 50 states, 71%, rounded up, are studying in these 10 states, a statistically insignificant decrease from May 2017.  This, of course, means that 29% are in the remaining 40 states and Puerto Rico, which has one (1). 

To drill down a bit deeper, 44.45% are in California, Texas, and Washington state.  I discuss some of the reasons for this in a September 2017 article I wrote for VNExpress International.  (The bluer the state, the more Vietnamese students are studying there.)

Stay tuned for a post in which I analyze this information in light of other trends in what I refer to as the perfect storm of converging factors that include the recent spike in the number of Vietnamese students studying in Canada, increasing competition within and outside of the US, and various sociopolitical factors.


The USA & Australia Trade Places – Again!

usa flagAs of February 2015, the United States is once again the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students.  Using the SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update, which includes both secondary and postsecondary data, there are about 26,000 Vietnamese studying in the US, rounded up by 18 students.  Since the Australian figures below encompass all sectors of that country’s educational system, the two data sets are identical in terms of what they measure.

australian flagHere is the February 2015 update from “Down Under,” provided by the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training.  At that time, there were 359,971 enrollments by full-fee paying international students in Australia on a student visa. This represents an 11.6% increase on YTD February 2014.  Vietnamese students comprise 5% of all nationalities.

Top 5 Nationalities


Du học Mỹ chọn sao cho đúng và trúng?

Below is an excerpt from a 20.4.15 Thanh Niên Online article about the dramatic increase in the number of Vietnamese students in the US at the postsecondary and secondary levels, as reported in this 1 April 2015 post, entitled Vietnam Now Ranks 7th Among All Sending Countries (!).

2-15 top 10 countries

VN hiện đang xếp thứ bảy trong số những nước có nhiều học sinh – sinh viên (HS-SV) nhất tại Mỹ, theo thống kê mới nhất của hệ thống dữ liệu về du học sinh (SEVIS) do Bộ Ngoại giao và Bộ An ninh nội địa Mỹ cùng quản lý. Báo cáo quý mới nhất của SEVIS cho thấy hiện có 25.982 HS-SV VN tại Mỹ, đưa VN vượt qua Đài Loan (23.503) và tiệm cận với Nhật Bản (26.187).

Tiến sĩ Mark Ashwill, nguyên đại diện tại VN của Viện Giáo dục quốc tế (IIE, trụ sở New York) nhận định với Thanh Niên: “Nếu xu hướng này vẫn tiếp tục, chắc chắn VN sẽ vượt qua cả Nhật Bản để trở thành nước xếp thứ sáu về số lượng du học sinh tại Mỹ. Trong giai đoạn 10.2014 – 2.2015, tổng số du học sinh VN tăng 11%, cao nhất trong tốp 10 các nước và vùng lãnh thổ”.

Theo Open Doors 2014, bản báo cáo thường niên về biến động trong giáo dục quốc tế ở Mỹ do IIE công bố, chỉ riêng số lượng SV VN hiện theo học tại các cơ sở giáo dục đại học của Mỹ năm học 2013 – 2014 đã tăng 3% so với cùng kỳ năm trước, từ 16.098 lên 16.579 sinh viên. Theo báo cáo này, đây là năm thứ 13 lượng SV VN tại Mỹ liên tục tăng. Cũng theo Open Doors 2014, VN đã lọt vào top 20 trong số những nước có nhiều SV du học nhất ở Mỹ từ năm học 2006 – 2007 và top 10 từ 2010 – 2011.

Tiến sĩ Ashwill dẫn ra một số lý do chính để giải thích cho xu hướng này: khả năng tài chính ngày một dồi dào của các gia đình VN; hệ thống giáo dục Mỹ, bao gồm cấp phổ thông, ngày càng được ưa chuộng; các gia đình VN không có nhiều niềm tin với hệ thống giáo dục trong nước; tính chủ động của các trường đại học Mỹ trong việc tiếp cận thị trường và khách hàng VN.

—–> Du học Mỹ chọn sao cho đúng và trúng? 


Vietnam Now Ranks 7th Among All Sending Countries (!)

2-15 top 10 countries

According to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers quarterly update from February 2015, a real-time data snapshot of international enrollment in the US, including secondary and postsecondary levels, Vietnam now ranks 7th among all places of origin with 25,982 students, surpassing Taiwan (23,503) and nipping at the heels of Japan (26,187).  If the current trend continues, Vietnam will certainly overtake Japan as the #6 sending country in the near future.

The increase of 11% over October 2014 was the highest among the top 10 sending countries.  (India was 2nd with 9%.)  Among key countries in Asia, Chinese students held steady while the number of students from South Korea, Japan and Taiwan declined 1.2%, 10.9% and 4%, respectively.

2-15 a closer look at asia

Follow these links to download the February 2015 quarterly update (PDF) and to check out the new interactive guide to SEVIS data.

Vietnam remains one of the fastest growing markets in the world for US-bound international students, a trend I predicted (sometimes you get lucky!) and expect to continue for the foreseeable future.


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 (Still) Ranks 8th Among All Sending Countries


SEVP releases quarterly report on international students studying in US

WASHINGTON – “SEVIS by the Numbers,” a quarterly report of international students studying in the United States, was released Tuesday by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The report is based on data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a Web-based system that includes information on international students, exchange visitors and their dependents while they are in the United States.

As of July 8, 966,333 international students were enrolled in nearly 9,000 U.S. schools using an F (academic) or M (vocational) visa. This marks a nearly five percent decrease from April, primarily due to graduation rates, but an eight percent increase when compared to July 2013. Seventy-five percent of all international students were from Asia, with 28 percent from China.  South Korea and Vietnam had the greatest percentage decrease in students studying in the United States at eight and seven percent, respectively, when compared to April statistics. The top 10 countries of citizenship for international students included: China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam (19,279 students), Mexico and Brazil. The University of Southern California, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, New York University and Columbia University rank one through five among U.S. schools with the most international students.

Nearly 350,000 international students pursued STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) coursework in July. Sixty-nine percent of international students studying STEM fields were male. Eighty-five percent of international students studying STEM coursework are from Asia. Seventy percent of international students studying engineering are from China and India. More international students study engineering than any other STEM field of study.

The July report included a special section that focuses on China. As of July 8, there were 270,596 international students from China studying in the United States. The majority of these students studied in California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Other key points from the report include: 79 percent of SEVP-certified schools had between zero and 50 international students; 72 percent of international students were enrolled in bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral programs; and California, New York and Florida had the most SEVP-certified schools. A school must be SEVP-certified before it can enroll international students.

The full report can be viewed here (PDF download).  Report data was extracted from SEVIS July 8. It provides a point in time snapshot of data related to international students studying in the United States. Data for the previous “SEVIS by the Numbers” was extracted from SEVIS April 1.

SEVP monitors approximately one million international students pursuing academic or vocational studies (F and M visa holders) in the United States and their dependents. It also certifies schools and programs that enroll these students. The U.S. Department of State monitors exchange visitors (J visa holders) and their dependents, and oversees exchange visitor programs.

NOTE:  There are always decreases in the number of international students in the US in the July quarterly update because of May/June graduation.  For example, South Korea, China, and Vietnam numbers decreased by 8%, 7% and 7%, respectively.  MAA


Not What They Signed Up For

“The bittersweet fact is that America exports some of the world’s best and worst higher education.” (MAA)

 When Albert Anarwat applied to the for-profit Aristotle University, in California, the Ghanaian student said he asked the university if the institution was accredited. Not only was he told yes, he said, but he also was told that if the university was not accredited, “How could they get a SEVIS number” – SEVIS being the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. In other words, if the institution was not accredited, how could it be approved to host international students? 

 Anarwat said that’s the position he finds himself in. He said he was originally planning to attend a liberal arts college in the Midwest before learning that he could skip straight to Aristotle’s master’s program — despite only having an associate degree. He said that when he showed up at Aristotle in the fall, he asked “What kind of university is this? There is no library, no books, no nothing.” He said on weeks there are holidays there are no classes at all, and a new course module starts every two months, when another $2,000 in tuition comes due (according to the university, the two-year program costs about $25,000 in total).

 “You are paying to live in the United States but you are not paying for an education,” Anarwat said. “You’re not getting an education. There’s no single American.” Rather he said the students all come from Cameroon, Ghana, India or Tanzania. On the NBC report, one student from Cameroon was anonymously quoted as saying “not even in my country had I seen such meaningless education offered to students.”

(As reported in a recent Inside Higher Ed article)

aristotle-logo2-2008Pardon me, dear reader, for quoting myself but it’s so apropos in this case.  This is something I’ve written and warned about – mostly as a voice in the wilderness.  Aristotle University, not to be confused with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, often called the Aristotelian University or University of Thessaloniki, is yet another family business masquerading as a university.  (Catchy name, huh? Yes,  the founders are Greek-American and, yes, Aristotle is turning in his grave.)  It comes as no surprise that this uni-company is based in California, a well-known sanctuary for unaccredited schools.  Most of these “schools” have similar boilerplate statements, as if they lifted them from a “how to” website for rogue providers. 

Aristotle University has an expressed and dedicated commitment toward academic excellence, promotion of understanding, the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarship and research, and the study and reasoned criticism of intellectual traditions. Aristotle University believes in strengthening the respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, peace, the sense of dignity, and the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship amongst all nations, and of all racial, ethnic or religious groups.

The most important link on AU’s now-defunct website.

Mostly, though, it’s less about academic excellence, promotion of understanding, the pursuit of truth, etc. and more about money, and lots of it.

Aristotle University (CA)
AU is located in an office building in Carlsbad, CA next to CAVElectronics and the San Diego Realty Network.

pic of aristotle univ

If you go to the website, you’ll find this message:  Our new website is currently Under Maintenance.  That’s because Aristotle University is currently under siege.   Another page that was accessible in the not too distant past and from which I obtained some of the information in this post now has this bold black on white statement:  This Account Has Been Suspended.  Its Facebook Group, which once had 1,814 members, is now closed. 

The website, by the way, is registered through under the name of Thomas A. Gionis, MD JD Inc. in Newport Beach, CA, the older brother of Xanthi Gionis, the university’s founder and “dean of students and admission.”  Thomas Gionis was once married to John Wayne’s daughter, Aissa.  In a bizarre case from 25 years ago, Gionis hired a Beverly Hills private investigator to trail her in a custody dispute and acted as a “free agent” in orchestrating a brutal attack against her.  There’s more in this article from May 1989:  John Wayne’s Daughter Aissa Is Brutally Beaten, and Her Ex-Husband Is Soon to Stand Trial.  But I digress. 

200px-Xanthi_GionisXanthi Gionis, the power behind the AU throne, is a Tea Party Republican who is a 2013 Republican candidate in the special election for District 40 of the California State Senate.  She was a 2012 Republican candidate seeking election to the U.S. House representing the 51st Congressional District of California.  Gionis lists her profession as:  Professor/Businesswoman/Author.  Stories involving rogue providers and their owners are rarely boring.

The Role of State and Federal Governments

Aristotle University is the latest scandal du jour involving unaccredited schools that are also SEVIS-approved schools.  There are more; just check the SEVIS-approved list.  The ability to issue I-20s clearly enhances a school’s credibility and improves its bottom line.  It confers a certain legitimacy that in this case it neither deserves nor has earned.

Why not take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to dealing with these schools?  These schools are a national embarrassment and a stain on the reputation of legitimate US higher education.  More importantly, they are cheating students like Albert Anarwat of their time and money.  Probably the most damning indictment of Aristotle University is the quote from the Cameroonian student, who said that “not even in my country had I seen such meaningless education offered to students.”

Why not propose and enact legislation that forbids unaccredited schools from being authorized to issue I-20s in the first place?  Kill two birds with one stone by protecting learners from faux universities and protecting the reputation of officially accredited colleges and universities.   

Let me leave you with this question:  why are student visa applicants required to be bona fide and some of the US schools to which they apply and are admitted are not? 


Bonus items:

Former Teacher Claims Aristotle University Owes Her Money (7.2.13)

Aristotle University Dean Denies Allegations (8.2.13)

California Orders Shuttering of Unaccredited Aristotle University (7.3.13)