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

Advertisements

Vietnam: Southeast Asia’s Most Dynamic Outbound Market

World Education Services has long advocated Vietnam as a viable recruitment market for institutions in North America. Understanding these students’ culture and family backgrounds, as well as the contextual factors that can ‘push’ them from Vietnam and ‘pull’ them toward institutions in other countries, can go a long way toward helping institutions develop an actionable plan for reaching out to and them.

This is a good analysis by WENR with a couple of exceptions:

The United States is, depending on who is reporting, either the number one, two or three destination for outbound students from Vietnam.

There is no doubt about the ranking, if you look at the latest figures from the US and Japanese governments.  Japan is the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students, broadly defined, as the article notes, followed by the US. Every time I check the SEVIS figures, based on the latest quarterly update, I also check the latest stats from the Australian government, since the two countries are usually pretty close in Vietnamese enrollment.

A more immediately relevant event is the recent move by Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training to deregulate Vietnamese education agents.

This “deregulation” occurred in the summer of 2016.  A new plan has since been approved that is similar to, but different from, the old one.  The two main provisions of Decree No. 46/2017/ND-CP, recently issued by the Vietnamese government, are that they are no longer required to deposit 500 million VND (approximately $22,000 at the current exchange rate) and, once again, advisers will be required to take a course and be certified by the education authorities. 

MAA

 

Consumer Barometer with Google in Viet Nam

This is a useful resource that reveals the following information, most of it fairly up-to-date, about Vietnamese online habits. The relevant data graphics are displayed after four (4) key questions.

Keep in mind that Viet Nam currently ranks 7th in the world for Facebook users with about 64 million accounts, a 40% increase (!) this year alone. This in a population of about 96 million. (That’s 3% of the global total.) It’s clear that those are not unique accounts and that many people have more than one, which also applies to mobile phones. Ho Chi Minh City ranks among the top 10 cities globally for having the most Facebookers with 14 million users.

How do Vietnamese connect to the Internet?

overview1

Do they use the Internet for personal purposes?

internet use for personal purposes

How often do Vietnamese go online (for personal Internet usage)?

frequency of internet usage

What online activities do they do on their smartphones at least weekly?

weekly smartphone online activities

How digitally savvy are Vietnamese netizens?

digitally savvy

MAA

 

 

 

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

“Why is Vietnam still poor?”

quoraBelow are a question asked by someone on Quora and an answer provided on 1 September 2016 by a young man who describes himself as born in Hanoi, now living in Sai Gon.  Quora is a self-described “question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.”  Its slogan is The best answer to any question. Unfortunately, like most corporate slogans, it’s more of an ideal than a reality.  The fact is anyone who is a member can answer, and some answers are better than others, to put it mildly.

As with Facebook, the only reason I choose to continue receiving their updates is because of the occasional nugget of gold in the midst of what is mostly ore.  Some of the questions and answers are the journalistic equivalent of click bait, e.g., Can humans crossbreed with other primates?, Would you kill someone if it wasn’t illegal? or Did you play “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” as a kid?  You get the idea.

Keep in mind that the assumption is Viet Nam is poor.

Why is Vietnam still poor?

Let’s start with corruption. Vietnam’s government is one of the most corrupted government in the world. The Vietnamese government was ranked at 112/168 (2015) in the CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index) [source]. All the money spent towards infrastructure building, social insurance, etc. flows into private pockets. Furthermore, brain drain (or human capital flight) is a huge problem in Vietnam. So you want to get a job in the government, does your father know “someone”? Do you have the money to “buy the position”? All the high quality workforce, if they don’t work oversea, they work for non-government entities. The low quality workforce somehow got into government jobs, and can you imagine what they can do to the countries?

The common Vietnamese people were educated to not having their own opinions, even if they do have opinions, they’ll be suppressed before saying it. Not to mention every problems in society are handled by “the Party” (Communist Party of Vietnam). Even the Vietnamese Constitution states that “the Party” is the only and rightful leading party of Vietnam.

But things are changing towards better. The young generations are now having their own opinions, their standard of living is raising, they have more concerns about politics than ever.

My Answer

Yes, there’s corruption in Viet Nam but there’s also corruption in the US, which is considered to be an “advanced country” but certainly a cautionary tale in this and other respects.  For example, 20 US Americans own as much wealth as 50% of the population, a clear indication of extreme wealth inequality and all of its attendant problems. 20 People Now Own As Much Wealth as Half of All Americans  (See Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy, based on a study Princeton University and Northwestern University)

Let’s give credit where credit’s due. Here are just a few examples:

1) Viet Nam is among the world’s leaders in converting wealth into national well-being. Vietnam is the 4th best country in converting wealth into well-being – VnExpress International

2) “Vietnam has achieved the fastest reduction in child malnutrition in the region with an average annual decline of 1.5 percent, according to the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).” Vietnam leads drop in child malnutrition

3) “Việt Nam is ranked fifth in the list of the world’s most optimistic countries on economic prosperity in 2017, according to a survey by WIN/Gallup, the world’s leading association in market research and polling.” VN among the world’s most optimistic countries on economic prosperity

4)  Viet Nam ranks 47th out of 127 countries in the Global Innovation Index 2017 (GII) and 9th in Asia, leading the group of middle- and lower-income economies.

As with any country, it’s important to be objective and well-informed when assessing its achievements and its shortcomings. For example, it’s patently false to assert that “All the money spent towards infrastructure building, social insurance, etc. flows into private pockets.” The world is not black and white but rather like a rainbow.

This statement is an oversimplification of a complex phenomenon: “Furthermore, brain drain (or human capital flight) is a huge problem in Vietnam.” A more accurate term is “brain recirculation.” Growing numbers of overseas-educated Vietnamese are coming home to start new businesses or join existing ones, not to mention overseas Vietnamese who have moved (back) to Viet Nam to work and live for the long term, if not for the rest of their lives.

And, yes, Viet Nam’s past continues to haunt its present, including war legacies and the fact that 3.8 million Vietnamese, over half of whom were civilians, were killed during the American War. As others have mentioned, the devastating US-led economic embargo, which was imposed in 1965 on the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (“North Vietnam”), was only lifted in 1994 (!). These are tragic realities not excuses.

In short, Mr. Đức’s one-sided answer reflects a lack of knowledge and perspective. He lacks an appreciation for just how far his country has come in a very short period of time. He does, however, end on an optimistic note: “But things are changing towards better. The young generations are now having their own opinions, their standard of living is raising, they have more concerns about politics than ever.” That’s called development. Why is the standard of living rising?  In large part because of key government policies that date to the Renovation (Đổi Mới) reforms of 1986.

In spite of its problems, many of which I consider to be the “growing pains” of a rapidly developing economy, Viet Nam is widely considered to be one of the great success stories of the developing world.  Isn’t that something Vietnamese and others who have Viet Nam’s best interests at heart can be rightfully be proud of?

MAA

 

 

 

NAFSA 2017: Riding the Wave

group pic2
With my co-presenters, Diana Sampson and Stephanie Sieggreen (to my right), after our general session.

It was another rewarding and enjoyable NAFSA annual conference with nearly 10,000 attendees.  My week was filled with meetings with colleagues from the US and many other countries that have targeted Viet Nam as a priority country.  While most are interested in recruiting (more) Vietnamese students, some have other project ideas.  

Riding the Wave

I kicked off conference week with a Viet Nam student recruitment seminar entitled Riding the Wave.  I first organized this free, unofficial, pre-conference seminar last year in Denver because there were no Viet Nam-related workshops or general sessions offered. 

The title is reference to current societal and market conditions, i.e., the interest in overseas study among Vietnamese parents and students that is the result of several factors, including the young median age of the population (30.1), rapid economic development and the concomitant growing ability to pay, and the substandard quality of much of the domestic higher education system, among other reasons. 

The wave will break at some point due to demographic factors, improvements in the quality of Vietnamese higher education, and trends that are difficult to predict for those of us who don’t have a crystal ball.  

I was joined by Phúc (Théodore) Phan, Co-Founder and Instructional Designer, College Scout (CS), who talked about the exciting and cutting-edge work that CS, a Hanoi-based ed-tech startup, is doing to help prepare students for success. 

Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam

room 502AI wrapped up a very busy week by chairing a general session about how to recruit students in Viet Nam without using an education agent.  (Ideally, institutions do both in highly competitive markets like Viet Nam.) 

This session was well-attended in spite of the fact that it was scheduled in the last time slot on the final day of the conference.  Many more would have attended had they not been on their way home.  My only wish is that we had had more time. 

NOTE:  If you’re interested in obtaining a PDF copy of our presentation, you can download it from the conference site or app until mid-August (must be logged in), or contact me.

app session overviewFinally, thanks to my distinguished colleagues, Diana Sampson (Shoreline Community College, WA) and Stephanie Sieggreen (Western Kentucky University) for their outstanding contributions.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work with both of them. 

MAA

Viet Nam Enrollment Up 6%, According to SEVIS Biannual Report

actve f m students1000w_q95

For some reason, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), decided to issue an update on international student enrollment as of May 2017.  There are currently 1.18 million international students with F (academic) or M (vocational) status studying at 8,774 schools in the US, according to the latest SEVIS by the Numbers update (PDF), of whom 77% are from Asia. 

Based on data extracted from SEVIS May 5, the international student population increased 2% compared to May 2016, with 76% of students enrolled in higher education programs of study.  Based on past increases, or taking a glass is half-empty look at that increase, it’s very modest at best, and a harbinger of a downward trend at worst. 

[In my opinion, May is not the best time to be analyzing and comparing international enrollment figures in the US because it’s the end of the academic year.  Why not wait until October, after the beginning of the new academic year?]

China and India continue to send the largest number of students to the US with 362,368 students and 206,698 students, respectively.  Saudi Arabia experienced the largest decline at -19% and Nepal the most sizable increase at +18%.

There are some bright spots, however, including one related to Vietnamese enrollment.  Viet Nam was one of a handful of sending countries with a notable increase of 6% from May 2016 to May 2017.  India was in the same range with a 7% increase. 

Fields of Study

There are no surprises here.  Business, including management, marketing and related support services, are the most popular fields of study, followed by engineering, computer science, remedial education and liberal arts.  43% of international students enroll in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs of study. DHS classifies

Regional Trends

by region1000w_q95

This biannual report includes a new section on regional data trends.  Below are some excerpts from the SEVIS update:

Northeast:  The international student population in the Northeast increased 4% when compared to May 2016, marking the highest proportional growth of the four US regions. Rhode Island was the only state in the region to experience a dip in the number of international students compared to the previous year, while New York and Massachusetts added the largest number of international students during that same period, 4,490 students and 2,770 students, respectively. New Jersey saw an increase of 10% in international students pursuing bachelor’s degrees.

South:  In the South, the international student population grew 3% since May 2016. Florida, Georgia and Texas all saw significant increases in the number of international students studying in those states.  While Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma saw decreases in the number of international students studying there.

Arkansas, Kentucky and Maryland all saw major growth in international students taking part in their higher education system. Maryland saw a 10% increase in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. However, the southern region saw the largest growth at the graduate degree level. The number of international students pursuing master’s degrees increased 25% in Arkansas and 35% in Kentucky.

Midwest:  The Midwest saw minimal growth of 1%. Illinois added 1,331 students to its international student population, marking the largest increase in the region, while Nebraska experienced the largest proportional growth of 7%. Missouri experienced the largest decrease in international students, both in terms of student numbers and proportional decline, 763 students and 3%, respectively.

West:  In the western part of the US, international student enrollment stayed relatively static in California, other than an 8% increase in the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees. Idaho saw a 14% drop in the total number of international students studying in the state, with a 16% decrease in the number of students earning a bachelor’s degree. Nevada’s international student population grew by 5%, marking the largest proportional growth in the region.

The top 10 host states for Vietnamese students are as follows: 

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Washington
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New York
  6. Florida
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Illinois
  9. Virginia
  10. Georgia

The top three states enroll 46% of all Vietnamese students, while the top 10 enroll nearly 72% of the total.  Consistent with the regional trends reported above, Florida surpassed Pennsylvania and Georgia displaced Minnesota from November 2016.  

Stay tuned for the next, and much more interesting, update on the number of international students in the US, including from Viet Nam! 

MAA