I placed a gentleman’s bet with myself that the number of young Vietnamese studying in Canada would top 20,000 last year. Based on the latest statistics for 2018 released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, it looks like I won, much to the dismay of Canada’s main friendly competitor for Vietnamese students, the United States of America.
EducationUSA fairs in Viet Nam and other countries can be a cost-effective way to recruit students. The location of the fairs and the network of the local EducationUSA office that organizes the events determine who comes, more or less.
As I’ve written before, sometimes the goals of the US State Department and recruiters diverge. For example, one of the goals of the former is outreach and the exercise of soft power. This means that they occasionally organize fairs in locations that are not promising in terms of ability to pay and therefore realistic interest in study in the USA.
The role of EducationUSA is simple. Organize an event that offers decent quantity and, more importantly, quality attendance. What about post-fair follow-up? Obviously, EdUSA advisers promote study in the USA as a whole and not individual institutions.
While US colleagues follow up in English, that is not enough. They need to have someone contact students in Vietnamese, starting with the “hot leads,” via email, telephone and, if possible, Facebook, the #2 website in Viet Nam. This will greatly increase the chances of converting leads into applications and admits. This can be done by trusted education agents or other in country representatives.
Vietnamese get most of their information from online sources, including social media, primarily Facebook. They also watch a lot of video, 2 hours, 43 minutes a day, to be precise, according to the results of the annual We Are Social and Hootsuite update. As a result, YouTube ranks 4th among all websites in Viet Nam, according to SimilarWeb. It is for this reason that videos should be an integral part of any digital marketing campaign.
I see a lot of online videos intended to promote various educational institutions but not very many quality ones that young people, i.e., potential international students, would actually watch. In all honesty, most fall into the bad and ugly categories. Here are two examples. It would be best to illustrate my points by showing you real videos but that’s not possible, for obvious reasons, the most important of which I would not want to embarrass the offending parties.
Low quality content: A lot of videos I see are of the talking head variety. Either students are sitting or standing in one location talking about their school and related experiences, or someone is interviewing them using a talk show format.
In one video, the students being interviewed looked like prisoners, sitting with hands folder, and dutifully answering question after question. In another, a student was obviously reading off of a script and looking into the camera with the occasional nervous smile. Not convincing, invariably boring and, sometimes, painful, to watch.
Vietnamese students will click on the link, watch for a second or two, and then quickly move elsewhere in search of more inspirational, educational, and/or meaningful content.
Poor sound quality: Content aside, many videos are not professional or even semi-professional. Either staff or students are using substandard equipment and do not have experience making videos for the demographic in question. It’s like with photography. Everyone with a smartphone is a “photographer” but very few know how to take good photos worth looking at.
Nas Daily is an example from Facebook that I often share with colleagues. His daily one-minute videos are crisp, fast-paced, and a pleasure to watch and listen to with commentary, interviews, and background music. He has over 5.8 million followers and over a billion views, which means he must be doing something right. The point is his videos are worth watching.
Here’s an announcement about what has become an annual event at the NAFSA annual conference.
If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more. —Eric Shinseki
Capstone Vietnam is pleased to announce that Mark Ashwill, Managing Director and Co-Founder, will speak at an unofficial, pre-conference Viet Nam student recruitment seminar to be held on Monday, May 28, 2018 at a center in downtown Philadelphia operated by the Drexel University English Language Center. (The address will be sent to confirmed registrants.)
Dr. Ashwill is an international educator who has lived and worked in Viet Nam for over 12 years. Before becoming managing director of Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), he served as country director of the Institute of International Education (IIE)-Vietnam from 2005-09. Dr. Ashwill was the first US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialists grant in 2003. He is the author of the widely cited Vietnam Today – A Guide to a Nation at a Crossroads, published in 2004 by Intercultural Press, Inc. (now Nicholas Brealey).
A Hobsons consultant’s report noted that “The work of Dr. Mark Ashwill, formerly of IIE, and the former US Ambassador, Michael Michalak, helped to promote the United States as a destination for Vietnamese students, and strengthened the ties between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and US universities.” Jeff Browne wrote on his Vietnomics blog that “Much of the credit for the strengthening US-Viet Nam higher education link goes to Hanoi-based educator, Mark Ashwill, director of Capstone Vietnam and key advisor to student-run nonprofit VietAbroader, both of which help Vietnamese students navigate the American education culture.”
For more information about Dr. Ashwill’s background, please follow these links to a biographical sketch and a summer 2017 interview entitled Capstone Vietnam: Why This Education Entrepreneur Is Excited About Vietnam’s Future.
The Riding the Wave Viet Nam Recruitment Seminar will consist of a comprehensive overview of current market conditions, recruitment tools and techniques, and different types of recruitment strategies. The title notwithstanding, these are challenging times for international student recruitment, including in Viet Nam, with a rapidly changing market and more competition than ever. While more Vietnamese students are opting to study overseas, with the US being one of the most popular destinations, there is a perfect storm brewing that will hinder recruitment prospects, for some institutions and in some countries more than others, in the medium-term.
Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dr. Ashwill speak about recruitment in Viet Nam, which ranks 5th among all places of origin in the US, according to the 12/17 SEVIS update. In addition, there was a 8.62% increase in F-1 issuances in 2017.
The seminar will take place from from 2-4 p.m. on Monday, May 28th in downtown Philadelphia. There will be plenty of time for Q&A during and after the informal discussion. This special event is a productive and enjoyable way to kick off NAFSA 2018!
The Riding the Wave seminar is free of charge and refreshments will be served. Online registration is required.
A heartfelt thanks to the Drexel English Language Center & Study in the USA for their support and sponsorship!
Below is some information about a Strategic Recruitment Workshop that I’ll be leading next June in Dalat, Viet Nam. Please follow this link to the Capstone Vietnam website for additional information, including schedule, cost, and online registration.
After a very successful first Strategic Recruitment Workshoplast June in Phan Thiet, we have decided to organize a second one. You are cordially invited to join me, my staff and other presenters for two full days in beautiful Dalat in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam to receive a detailed briefing about student recruitment in Vietnam.
This workshop will take place from June 19-21, 2017 following the ICEF Thailand – Viet Nam Agent Roadshow in HCMC and our two StudyGlobal Education Fairsin Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi. I’m pleased to acknowledge Study in the USA as an event sponsor.
The purpose of this workshop is to give you the tools you need in terms of knowledge, insights and strategy in order to increase your chances of success in recruiting Vietnamese students in what has become a highly competitive market in recent years.
In addition to Dr. Mark Ashwill, Managing Director, presenters will include educational advisers from Capstone’s Hanoi and HCMC offices, marketing specialists, high school leaders, and students currently studying overseas.
Each participant will receive a copy of Keys to Successful Student Recruitment in Viet Nam, an up-to-date guide written by Dr. Ashwill, and a packet of materials with information about Vietnam, and facts and figures about student recruitment.
The workshop is intended for any colleague from a regionally accredited institution in the US or an officially accredited institution in another country with an interest in learning more about Viet Nam and factors related to student recruitment. Last year, colleagues included recruiters, deans, directors, and other senior international education officials. The number of participants is limited to 25.
Dalat (Đà Lạt) is the capital of Lâm Đồng Province. The city is located 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level on the Lang Bian Plateau in the southern part of the Central Highlands region. Dalat, known as the honeymoon capital of Viet Nam, is a popular tourist destination. With its year-round cool weather, the city supplies a wide range of agricultural products and has a highly successful flower industry. Dalat is known as the “city of thousands of pine trees” because of the pine forests and the “city of eternal spring” because of the year-round mist that appears in the valleys.
Selected Testimonials from 2016
The retreat provided crucial insight into and practical takeaways from myriad aspects of student recruitment in Viet Nam. It also afforded excellent networking opportunities among US higher education institutions and Vietnamese educational sectors. (Steven Hales, Dean of International Education, Contra Costa Community College District)
I really learned a lot about the Viet Nam market vis-à-vis the type of non-degree or pre-degree programs that we offer. I’m not new to the field, I’m not new to recruitment, but as we are fairly new to Viet Nam as a market, it was important to learn. And, I did. So much. (Denise Davis, Director, International Programs, Division of Continuing Education, University of California, Irvine)
I am really impressed with the Strategic Recruitment Retreat that was organized by Capstone. The retreat was well-organized and provided critical insights into marketing strategies in the Vietnamese market. You really need a trustworthy partner like Capstone who knows this market inside and out. (Emily Liu, International Recruitment Specialist, English Language Institute, University of Delaware)
Whether your institution just started recruiting Vietnamese students or has had a few years of recruitment experience, you will be able to gather a lot of helpful information about the market from this retreat. Capstone staff are all very enthusiastic about their mission of assisting institutions to develop strategies to recruit Vietnamese students. Besides work time, the location of the retreat was perfect to let us enjoy some downtime & relax. (Le To, Adviser, New Mind Education)
About Mark A. Ashwill, Workshop Leader
Dr. Ashwill is an educational entrepreneur who has lived and worked in Viet Nam for over a decade. He served as country director of the Institute of International Education from 2005-09 and co-founded Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company later that year.
A 2011 Hobsons consultant’s report noted that “The work of Dr. Mark Ashwill, formerly of IIE, and the former US Ambassador, Michael Michalak, helped to promote the United States as a destination for Vietnamese students, and strengthened the ties between the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) and US universities.” In June 2012, Jeff Browne wrote on his Vietnomics blog that “Much of the credit for the strengthening US-Viet Nam higher education link goes to Hanoi-based educator, Mark Ashwill, director of Capstone Vietnam and key advisor to student-run nonprofit VietAbroader, both of which help Vietnamese students navigate the American education culture.”
He has written extensively about recruitment-related issues on his blog and in articles, and has presented on the same at NAFSA and other national and international conferences. He has served as an informal adviser to the VNU (Hanoi) Institute for Education Quality Assurance (INFEQA) and frequently been interviewed by journalists from print and electronic media on a host of education-related issues.
Dr. Ashwill has also presented at numerous workshops, conferences and seminars in Viet Nam and the US on issues related to US-Viet Nam educational exchange, student recruitment, accreditation, higher education admission, and global citizenship and intercultural competence, among other topics.
Dr. Ashwill has served as an adviser to VietAbroader since its founding in 2004, is a member of the Advisory Board of Teachers for Vietnam, a US-based non-profit organization, and is a blogger for The Huffington Post. He is the author of Vietnam Today: A Guide to a Nation at a Crossroads (with Thai Ngoc Diep), which was published in 2005 by Intercultural Press (now Nicholas Brealey Publishing). Vietnam Today, a substantive cultural introduction to the country, has been widely cited and is considered to be among the best books of its kind. He was the first US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialists Grant to Viet Nam in 2003.
Dr. Ashwill is widely viewed as a thought leader in the field of international education in general and US-Viet Nam educational exchange in particular. He has spent his entire career working in various areas of international education, including study abroad, language & culture instruction, Fulbright advising, educational advising, & international student recruitment in three different sectors: public, non-profit and private.
Capstone Vietnam is a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and HCMC. In its nearly eight (8) years of operation, Capstone Vietnam has earned a reputation for quality service and ethical business practices. We work exclusively with regionally accredited institutions in the US market, the only company in Viet Nam (and perhaps the world) that does, and officially accredited institutions in other countries.
My staff and I recently organized a Strategic Recruitment Retreat in Phan Thiet for a select group of US higher education colleagues representing four-year institutions, both public and private, and community colleges from seven (7) states. What they have in common is their desire to welcome more Vietnamese students to their campuses and communities.
The retreat was how I envisioned it – a rare opportunity and chance to spend quality time with colleagues with different levels of knowledge and experience who are interested in learning more about Viet Nam and student recruitment here in both formal and informal settings. It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us.
Sessions touched on the following topics: a country update that placed demand for overseas study in societal context, student and parent expectations and reality, visa counseling vs. scripting, digital and traditional marketing, use of education agents (partner beware!), the role of high schools in promoting overseas study, the role of departments of education and training, 30+ possible ways to succeed in the Vietnamese student recruitment market, and a wrap-up discussion that dealt with developing custom-designed recruitment strategies and included consultations.
We also had several guest speakers, including colleagues from a department of education and training (DoET), one of Viet Nam’s top high schools, and a Vietnamese student currently studying in the US.
Thanks to the participants and guests for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us in this exciting “pilot project” and to my staff for their hard work and contributions to the success of this event. I’m also grateful to Study in the USA, a partner and corporate sponsor, who organized a lucky draw, the winner of which sent a representative to participate in the retreat.