Live from Viet Nam – An E20 Webinar!

e20 webinar

Last week, I had the opportunity to present on one of my favorite topics, Viet Nam, to a virtual audience of over 40 US colleagues, including those from higher and secondary education.   I’m grateful to Syed Jamal from Branta and Renait Stephens from Study in the USA, event co-sponsor, for inviting me and for scheduling the session earlier than usual, i.e., at 10 p.m. Viet Nam time.  (The usual time is 10 a.m. Pacific, which is 1 a.m. my time!) This meant that I still had my wits about me and was relatively coherent after a long day of travel and work. 


In my approximately 20-minute presentation, I provided a wide-ranging overview of current/recent issues and trends in Viet Nam in order to place interest in overseas study and student recruitment in a broader societal and even historical contact. 

In addition to a country update that included up-to-date statistics about young Vietnamese studying overseas in general and in the US in particular, I talked about some keys to success in a very competitive market, emphasizing how important it is for institution to find what works for them often through a process of trial and error.  I concluded with a brief discussion of the importance of digital marketing in a country with a high Internet and social media penetration rate, especially for one at its stage of development, and the often problematic issue of student visas.  Regarding the latter, it’s important to focus on what is within our control, e.g., embrace visa counseling and reject scripting.

I also shared a link with all participants to a password-protected page I created on this very blog entitled Selected Online Resources About Viet Nam & Student Recruitment.

Peace, MAA



Worldwide Caution (?)

worldwideI was looking for some information on the US State Department website a while ago and came across this notice.   Wow, the world is such a scary place, especially outside the borders of the US, a country that has come to be known within its borders since 9/11 as the Homeland, much to my dismay and that of many other thinking people.

Here are some of the places to avoid in a long and growing list of countries: 

  • high-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • hotels, clubs, and restaurants
  • places of worship
  • schools
  • parks
  • shopping malls and markets
  • tourism infrastructure
  • public transportation systems
  • airports

Did they overlook anything?  Travel abroad, check into your hotel, lock the door, and stay there!  Room service, anyone?  

The Caution notes that In multiple regions, terrorists, guerrilla groups, and criminals seek to kidnap U.S. citizens to finance their operations or for political purposes.  That pretty much reflects the prevailing view that US American life is more valuable than non-US American life but I didn’t realize it was THAT valuable! 

The caution neglects to inform the presumably concerned reader that homicide rates in the US were seven times higher than the average of other high-income countries, due in large part to a gun homicide rate that is about 25 times higher than in other high-income countries.

Having said that, most communities in the US are safe, as are most communities in other countries.  The US, unlike most other countries, especially its peers, has to come to terms with mass shootings as common occurrences, which are related to the availability not just of guns but assault weapons (of mass human death and destruction).  Then there is police brutality not directed against people who look like me but fellow citizens of color. 

On a personal note, I’m happy that I live in one of the safer countries in the world where crime is pretty much limited to “crimes against property,” including the occasional drive-by bag and purse snatching, especially in HCMC/Saigon.  No “cautions” here, just good old-fashioned common sense, e.g., leave your valuables at home (or in the hotel safe, if you’re a tourist) and carry your bag away from the street.

eyes-useless-when-mind-is-blindIn the midst of this “worldwide caution” and rampant fear, here’s a question that practically asks itself:  Why are so many people around the world so pissed off at the USA?  Look at past and present foreign policy, CIA dirty tricks, military interventions and, more recently, Donald Trump’s incendiary comments and actions.  Why do they hate us (US)? The reasons are obvious and plentiful but not to nationalists, whose ideological blinders do not allow for self-reflection and introspection.

Peace, MAA

Hunger in the Land of the Free

hunger in the us

I read this LinkedIn post with conflicting feelings and felt compelled to respond, for what it was worth.  It’s always heartwarming to see people helping other people need.  On the other hand, no one in the US should go hungry. It is a crying shame and a national disgrace that so many do.  The US is a place where the poor are viewed and treated by many with contempt.  Why, aside from the usual sprinkling of racism?  Simply because they are poor.  They are “failures” because they have not succeeded in realizing the “American Dream,” the centerpiece of US cultural mythology that exists as a kind of socio-political Santa Claus.

Here is a slightly edited version of my response.

While I applaud these types of charitable activities, it saddens me that there is hunger in the US. What happens when these food kits run out? What about a system that allows so many people to go hungry?  Here are some relevant facts:

1) There are 45 million US Americans living in poverty, using the government’s rather conservative definition of what it means to be poor.

2) More than 50% of all US Americans earn less than 30k a year, which doesn’t buy you much in most place.

3) 3 US Americans own more wealth than 50% of the bottom half.

4) The median worth of African-Americans in Boston is $8.


BREXIT & US Election: No Major Short-Term Effects on VN Student Interest

hcmoblogo-newThis is the latest in a series of Diversification Market Reports produced by Hotcourses, the UK’s leading course search company with more than 6,000 course providers.  (Hotcourses was recently acquired by IDP.)

Below are an overview, executive summary, and list of the key takeaways, the most important of which is this:  BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.  The results of this survey were presented at the NAFSA 2017 annual conference in Los Angeles.

hotcourses vn trump

This report captures an overview of demand from students in Vietnam, and an
examination of the destinations they are headed to, the programs they are studying,
level of study and other trends and insights. The data in this report is informed by the
Hotcourses Insights Tool which tracks searches across the global Hotcourses websites,
to which there were over 32 million visitors in the past 12 months. 

The data for this report is drawn from the time period January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016.  The data was drawn from a sampling of 1,034,085 Vietnamese students researching 11 prospective destination markets over a 12 month period: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore,
Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States. 

Executive summary

  • Vietnam is a crucial market to engage with for universities looking to diversify
    their recruitment – particularly beyond China and India – gaining increasing
    international attention.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two Vietnamese cities where the most searches for
    overseas study were performed.
  • Vietnamese students’ top destination countries of interest were the United States
    and Australia, with 33% of Vietnamese researching universities in the United States
    and 27% in Australia.
  • Business and management is the most popular program of interest among
    Vietnamese students for both undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

Key Takeaways

  • BREXIT and the US election have not had any major short-term effects on
    Vietnamese students interest in the two countries.
  • Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi are the two most important cities to travel to on
    international recruitment tours to Vietnam.
  • Business and Management is the top program of interest for both undergraduate
    and graduate level Vietnamese students.
  • Graduate programs in the UK are of high interest to Vietnamese students,
    particularly business and management.
  • USA’s Health and Medicine programs, especially those focused on
    pharmacology and psychology, are of high interest within the Vietnamese
  • Vietnam is a prime diversification market for Canada, as Vietnamese student
    interest there has been growing exponentially over the past year.
  • While interest in Australia as a destination market appears to be on a decline, it
    is still the second most popular destination market for Vietnamese students and
    has potential to rebound in the first half of 2017.

There is one caveat to all of the above:  The results are as of the end of 2016.  A lot of water has flowed under the political bridge in the past seven (7) months in both the US and the UK.