Viet Nam Ranks 59th Out of 163 in 2017 Global Peace Index

vision of humanity

Viet Nam is a peaceful country.  For those of us who live here, I’m stating the obvious.  According to the latest Global Peace Index reportViet Nam ranks 59th out of 163 countries surveyed.  That ranking is in descending order from the “most peaceful” (Iceland) to the “most dangerous” (Syria).  The “state of peace” categories include: very high, high, medium, low, and very low.  This means that Viet Nam falls into the wide-ranging “medium” category, as do Brazil (#108), China (#116), and the US (#114), among other countries.  Australia, Canada, and Japan are classified as “very high” and rank 12th, 8th, and 10th respectively.  

The Global Peace Index, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP), measures global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society, the extent of domestic and international conflict, and the degree of militarization.  

In the realm of personal safety, there are certain precautions one needs to take in Viet Nam, e.g., don’t walk around Hanoi and HCMC waving an expensive smartphone and always hold your bag away from the street, but violent crimes against people are rare. 

To learn more about the methodology and/or results of this survey, read this article or download this PDF report, all 140 pages of it.    

Peace, MAA

Advertisements

Record Number of B Visas Issued to Vietnamese in 2017

travel state gov

Since information is power, or at least helps in many decision-making processes, I am always looking for trends based on statistics and other data.  In the last (2017) fiscal year (FY) ending on 30 September 2017, a record 100,423 B-1,2 (tourist and business) visas were issued to Vietnamese citizens. 

The number of student visas issued during the same time was 17,275. While the US State Department does not release this information, one can assume – based on anecdotal sources – that the refusal rate is much higher for student visas, more so at the US Consulate in HCMC, which is considered a high fraud post, than at the US Embassy in Hanoi.  Check out this March 2018 blog post for more information about US student visas and Vietnamese students.

What is Adjusted Refusal Rate?  

Before we take a look at some visas stats from FY06 to FY17, here’s a definition of this term.  The visa waiver program nonimmigrant visitor refusal rate is based on the worldwide number of applicants for visitor (B) visas who are nationals of that country.  (B visas are issued for short-term business or pleasure travel to the US.)  The US State Department omits all applications from the calculation except the last one.  For example, if an applicant was refused in May and issued a visa in July of the same year, only the issuance will count.  If an applicant is refused twice, it will only be counted as one refusal.  

In rare cases, an applicant may end the year in a third category, “overcome.”  This happens when a consular officer has the information s/he needs to overcome a refusal
but has not processed the case to completion.  

Thus, the adjusted refusal rate equals: [Refusals minus Overcomes] divided by [Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes].

Example:  Determination of B Visa Adjusted Refusal Rate for Country X:
Country X, worldwide, had 305,024 B visa applicants end the fiscal year in the “issuance” status; 20,548 end in “refused” status; and 88 end in “overcome” status.  
Refusals minus Overcomes = 20,548 – 88 = 20,460
Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes = 305,024 + 20,548 – 88 = 325,484
20,460 divided by 325,484 = 6.3 percent (Adjusted Refusal Rate)

The complete description, from which the above formula was excerpted, can be downloaded here.  (This file includes links to refusal rate data from FY06 to FY17.)

The Ups and Downs of B Visa Issuance Rates

Last year, the adjusted refusal rate was 24.06%, which means that the issuance rate was 75.94%.  If 100,423 B visas were issued, a total of about 132,000 Vietnamese citizens applied for a B visa from 1 October 2016 to 30 September 2017.  The number of B visa issued jumped from 5,231 in 2006 to over 100,000 in 2017, a nineteen-fold increase in 11 years.  Follow this link to review this and related data.  

The factors that have contributed to substantial increases in B visa issuances include growing ability to afford overseas travel for pleasure and more business ties between Viet Nam and the US, which has produced an ever-expanding pool of applicants.  Another likely reason is that there are simply more qualified applicants.  The highest denial rate was in 2006 and the lowest in 2014. 

FY17: 24.06% (100,423)
FY16: 29.49% (86,180)
FY15: 23.43% (80,936)
FY14: 14.30% (67,140)
FY13: 20.30% (49,247)
FY12: 22.20% (41,159)
FY11: 33.50% (34,280)
FY10: 36.10% (30,811)
FY09: 42.30% (27,304)
FY08: 38.80% (30,426)
FY07: 36.30% (21,398)
FY06: 40.90%  (5,231)

Peace, MAA

 

The Importance of Quality Digital Marketing Content: Some Negative Role Models

digital marketingI have the opportunity to look at a lot of digital marketing produced by educational institutions and am sorry to say that most of it is of subpar quality.  Sometimes, I’ll even take a screenshot of an unimpressive example and send it to the colleague from the offending institution with a diplomatic suggestion or two for improvement. 

Here are a few examples of how not to use digital marketing, which result in a waste of precious time and marketing money.

Facebook Ad in English:  Since this is Viet Nam, it makes sense to have your ad in Vietnamese, if you want Vietnamese netizens to click on it.  If you are using the same ad in many countries, you might want to consider a country-specific approach.  One size does not fit all in marketing, as in many other areas involving different target audiences.

In addition, parents are the key decision makers and very few are proficient in English.  Most decide where their children will study and, in the case of higher education, what they will study.  In a discussion about hard copy promotional materials, I once had a US colleague tell me her institution expected a certain level of English proficiency, e.g., 79/80 TOEFL iBT score.  My (obvious) response was it’s more for the parents, who control the purse strings. 

It’s also a good idea to make it easy for young people to understand the information – easily and quickly.  They’ll have plenty of time to perfect their English, if they complete the long path from application, to admission, to visa issuance, to arrival in the host country, and your school.

Unspiring Text and Photo:  The quality and appeal of both the text and photo are key determinants of whether or not someone will click on it to obtain more information.  I’ve seen barren photos that are unlikely to motivate a Vietnamese student or parent to click for more.

Landing Page in English:  Even if you have excellent text in Vietnamese and an exciting photo, the process may end abruptly, if the link takes them to an English language landing page.  It’s best to have that information in Vietnamese or both languages.

For all of the above, you should solicit in country feedback from members of your target audience using a focus group.  At worst, it’s back to the drawing board,  Or perhaps only a few minor edits are required.  This could very well mean the difference between effective digital marketing and so much virtual pissing in the wind, to coin a phrase.  

Peace, MAA

“Air quality: Vietnamese professor calls for power price increase over unsustainable GDP growth”

The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet.  Source:  The U.S. Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History. It Just Walked Away From the Paris Climate Deal, 1 June 2017, New York Times

The title of this post was the ominous title of a recent article in the Vietnamese media.  Below is the photo that accompanied the article.  Much of the air pollution Viet Nam in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is caused by motorbikes.  Why not require that all motorbikes sold in Viet Nam be hybrid instead of using a traditional combustion engine?  What about hybrid cars, which are non-existent?

pollution-1526202286
Traffic in Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre

40% of Viet Nam’s power is generated by hydropower plants.  While coal is projected to cover over half of all electricity production by 2030, the government is also targeting renewables such as solar and wind as a high priority.  Fortunately, it made the decision to move away from nuclear power.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

Aside from these obvious points, I was struck by the broader political context of the comments made by this US-educated Vietnamese professor from Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV), essentially a US university.  His recommendation is precious, a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  Which country is the biggest carbon polluter in history?  You know who.  Which country walked away from the Paris (Climate) Agreement?  You know who.  Which country is among the biggest polluters in the world?  Ditto.   

The United States of America currently ranks 2nd with about 5,414 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.  China is #1 but the difference between the two countries is that China is actually trying to do something about it and its contribution to global air pollution is recent, coinciding with its rapid economic development.  The US can’t seem to break the fossil fuel habit and its leadership is in denial about climate change. 

Anytime the US government is involved, or any government, for that matter, there has to be an agenda.  What’s the agenda here?  A colleague suggested the following tongue-in-cheek panel topic at a Vietnamese university: “What should the international community’s response be to a rogue nation that’s disproportionately responsible for the world’s pollution and has just pulled out of the Paris Agreement?”  Now THAT would make for one hell of a discussion.  (I wonder if FUV would consider hosting it, “he asks in a fleeting moment of fantasy.”)

Consider the source.  Always.  People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Or perhaps this is yet another case of “do as we say not as we do”? 

Peace, MAA

Direct Applications on the Rise

education-agentsWhile Viet Nam is still primarily an agent-driven market, growing numbers of students are beginning to bypass education agents and apply directly to educational institutions, especially for certain types of institutions and programs with simpler application procedures.  In some cases, more than 50% of all apps are directly from students.

The reasons for this recent trend are increased access to information, both on- and offline, more confidence, and greater sophistication.  Given the quality and ethical problems that plague many education agents, the more Vietnamese students (and international students, in general) who apply directly, the better.  

There are some students who don’t require the services of an education agent, thereby saving money and sparing both student and parent the potential aggravation of working with dodgy agents.  They include academically talented students who have done their homework, so to speak, and know which institutions they want on their short list, as well as those who know exactly which school they want to attend because of their participation in a fair, info session, or based on a recommendation from someone they trust, e.g., a parent, teacher, or friend. 

This is an encouraging win-win trend, in my opinion, that should be promoted.  It gives students and parents more control over the entire process, eliminates the need to work with an agent, many of whom do not have students’ (and parents’) best interests at heart, and saves admitting institutions the cost of a commission.  What’s not to like?     

Peace, MAA

New Website: Recruit in Viet Nam

Below is an announcement about a new website created by Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company of which I’m managing director.

Peace, MAA


Logo Recruit in vietnam final-01This website is intended to serve as a one-stop resource for student recruitment in Viet Nam for colleagues from all over the world.  It was inspired by a session that Dr. Mark Ashwill, Capstone managing director and co-founder, chaired at the NAFSA 2017 annual conference in Los Angeles entitled Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam

A sound institutional recruitment strategy should ideally include tools and techniques that do not involve the use of education agents and commission-based recruitment in cooperation with quality and ethical agents.  The Recruit in Viet Nam website focuses exclusively on the former. 

There are many different ways to recruit both digitally and traditionally.  You have to discover works best for your institution through a process of self-reflection and, sometimes, trial and error.  We are happy to help guide you through this challenging process – at no charge.  (In addition, you will need local feedback on draft content, including digital and offline materials, which is included in the cost of the service.)

The truth is not every institution that targets Viet Nam as a priority country will be successful but we can help ensure that you are using your time and resources as wisely as possible in order to give you the best chance to succeed. 

There are approximately 200,000 young Vietnamese studying in around 50 countries.  About 147,000 are in the top five (5) countries alone, including – in descending order – Japan, the USA, Australia, China, and the UK.  This means that Viet Nam will continue to be a dynamic and promising recruitment market for an increasingly diverse array of host countries.