NAFSA 2017: Riding the Wave

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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

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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

Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses-2017 Edition

This is an excellent report produced by the American Council on Education and sponsored by Navitas.  Here’s a brief description from the ACE website:

Conducted every five years, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. It is the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, and includes two- and four-year, public and private, degree-granting institutions.

148x193-mapping-2017-coverI’ve taken the liberty of excerpting the information below about student mobility and international student recruitment (pp. 25-26).  Viet Nam is one of the top three countries – after China and India – cited as a geographic target in 58% of the recruiting plans cited by respondents. (Bold red is mine.)

International student recruiting

Planning and goal-setting frame international student recruiting efforts for many institutions. Funding for various recruiting mechanisms and activities is increasing, though undergraduate recruiting is a greater focus in terms of resource allocation than graduate student recruiting.

Nearly half (48 percent) of institutions have an international student recruiting plan in place—either for the institution as a whole, or for one or more schools/colleges. Of these plans, over 80 percent specify numerical enrollment targets for undergraduates, graduate students, or both.

Fifty-eight percent of the recruiting plans cited by respondents include geographic targets. By a clear margin, the top three target countries are China, India, and Vietnam. These are followed by four additional countries, each of which was identified by 30 to 40 percent of respondents as a target: South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While these priorities generally hold across sectors, Japan figures particularly prominently as a target country among associate institutions.

The percentage of institutions providing funding for travel by institutional recruitment officers to recruit both undergraduate and graduate students increased in 2016. Nearly twice the percentage of institutions fund such travel for recruiting at the undergraduate level (44 percent) as at the graduate level (23 percent).

Just over a third (36 percent) of institutions employ technology other than email and web pages in their recruiting efforts (e.g., by participating in virtual college fairs and delivering online information sessions for interested students). While the 2016 and 2011 data on this indicator are not fully comparable, they suggest an upward trend.

The percentage of institutions that provide scholarships or other financial aid for undergraduate international students increased by eleven percentage points to just under half (49 percent), while the proportion offering funding to graduate international students increased from 24 percent to 30 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter is much more common among doctoral and master’s universities than at institutions in the other three sectors.

A markedly higher percentage of institutions are engaging overseas student recruiters (agents) than in 2011. Though undergraduate recruiting is again the primary focus, as illustrated in Figure 12, for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the percentage of institutions providing funding for recruiting agents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016. For both student populations, master’s institutions engage agents at higher rates than colleges and universities in other sectors.

Follow this link to download the report

MAA

Government to ease rules on foreign investment in HE

This is yet another example of the Vietnamese government’s flexibility, as well as its ability to make mid-course corrections and learn from past mistakes.

A new government decree to ease the way for foreign investment in education in Vietnam, likely to be approved by the country’s leadership as early as June, will streamline procedures and reduce bureaucracy for setting up foreign branch campuses in the country.

The new decree will replace Decree Number 73 issued during 2012 which relates to foreign investment and collaboration in higher education. The new decree will increases the minimum investment capital to set up a foreign-backed university, from VND300 billion (US$13 million) under Decree 73 to a minimum of VND1 trillion or approximately US$45 million, excluding the land value for university construction.

“The draft decree is being revised and we have almost been through our internal procedures, so I hope we will be going to submit it to the government, to the prime minister, to issue next month or July,” Nguyen Xuan Vang, the director general for international cooperation in Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, told University World News last week.

Significantly, this article includes a reference to Fulbright University Vietnam as an “existing project.”

Existing projects

The new decree will, however, not apply to foreign-funded projects already under way such as Fulbright University Vietnam or FUV, an independent non-profit university funded by the United States and Vietnamese governments.

“Fulbright has been set up and they have submitted their application for the operating licence,” Vang said. “When they will be granted the operating licence, then they can recruit students, they can set up the university, but in order to operate they have to be able to show that they have faculty, they have staff, they have everything ready for quality assurance.”

Vang thought FUV’s operating licence could be granted by the end of this year, at the very earliest in September this year.

The project had been embroiled in a controversy over the appointment last year of Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, US senator, and alleged war criminal as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam board of trustees. He is said to have quietly resigned from his high-profile position in recent weeks.

Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a Hanoi-based educational consulting company, said: “If Bob Kerrey had stayed on, FUV would have remained a project and the red light would not have changed. By leaving, the red light quickly changed to green.”

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Bùi Thị Lượm, the sole survivor of the attack carried out by Bob Kerrey and his US Navy SEALS unit in February 1969. (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC.)

The quote from me was excerpted from this 26 May 2017 article The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position, which was widely distributed and quickly translated into Vietnamese. 

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety. 

MAA

Just Because the Golden Arches are in Vietnam Doesn’t Mean the US Won the War

Here’s my latest CounterPunch article, in response to a statement in a TV interview by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnamese-American author that the US won the war because Viet Nam shifted to a free market economy. 

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Last December, Viet Thanh Nguyen, a chaired professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, described by Amazon as “thrilling, rhythmic, and astonishing, as is the rest of Nguyen’s enthralling portrayal of the Vietnam War,” made the stunning pronouncement in a TV interview that “the US won this conflict” (8:03) because Viet Nam adopted a capitalist system, what is officially referred to as a socialist-oriented market economy.

I could see many viewers nodding their heads in solemn agreement.  “Yes”, I could hear them proudly and confidently saying to themselves, chests puffed out and hearts beating red, white, and blue, we belatedly yet ultimately triumphed because Viet Nam acquiesced and became like US.  Wasn’t that our goal from the beginning?

The Big Lie

This is a line, a fairy tale, a lie that I’ve heard many times.  It somehow makes US Americans feel good that the “commies” finally came around and saw the light.  It’s a psychological and emotional salve that reassures the gullible, the uninformed, and the nationalists that the sacrifices on their side were not in vain.  The problem is it’s dead wrong.

MAA

 

 

Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Viet Nam

AC17_presenter_badgeTo international education colleagues with an interest in Viet Nam:  Join me, Diana Sampson, Associate Vice President, International Education, Shoreline Community College, & Stephanie Sieggreen, Executive Director, International Enrollment Management, Western Kentucky University at our NAFSA general session entitled Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam

AbstractVietnam now ranks sixth among all sending countries, according to the latest SEVIS update, with most of that enrollment in higher education. While the pool of potential students is expanding, so, too, is the competition. This session provides recruitment strategies that do not involve the use of education agents.

Follow this link for more session-related information, including a brief bio for each presenter. 

MAA

Happy 7th Anniversary, “International Educator in Viet Nam”!

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WordPress dutifully reminded me yesterday that it was the 7th anniversary of registering this blog.  That was at a time when I suddenly had more freedom of speech, relatively speaking, because of a job change.  No more pre-approvals, no more top-down censorship, no more “change this” or “delete that” because it might offend certain powerful people who happen to control purse strings.

Over the past seven years, this blog has offered ample evidence that the fields of education and international education in general and in Viet Nam, in particular, are many things; dull is not one of them.

So who has read this venerable blog since 2009?  US and other foreign colleagues, Vietnamese colleagues who have an interest in the issues I discuss and who read English, colleagues from the US and Vietnamese governments, competitors, and a veritable rogue’s gallery of other individuals.

The latter category includes people who work, how shall I put it?, on the fringes and in the dark corners of this multi-billion dollar business called education.  I have delighted some and angered others.  And the truth will set you free, even if it occasionally hurts and costs certain people and certain entities money.

Please join me, whoever you are, wherever you are, and whatever your drink of choice is, in tipping your glass to seven (7) years of Information, Insights & (Occasionally) Intrigue!  Thank for spending some of your precious time to visit, virtually speaking.  I do it for you and for myself, i.e., writing as thinking and, sometimes, as therapy.  Happy 7th Anniversary, International Educator in Viet Nam!

MAA