Below is a list of majors – in descending order – that Vietnamese students chose in the 2017/18 academic year. Interestingly, there was a decrease in the percentage studying business/management, down from 30.9% the previous year. This reflects growing interest in non-business majors and perhaps, quite possibly, the dawning realization that one doesn’t need to study business to do business.
In addition, there were more students majoring in math/computer science (+2.1%), engineering (+1%), and the physical/life sciences (+1.3%), and fewer (-.3%) enrolled in intensive English programs.
If your institution awards financial aid to Vietnamese students, I hope your approach is of the “trust but verify” variety. Not all parents and students are honest, and Viet Nam is no exception. Many people of means are happy to game the system and accept financial aid, if they can get it.
I remember a story about a highly selective liberal arts college in the US, which shall remain unnamed to protect the victimized, that awarded a generous financial aid package to a Vietnamese student. Once said student showed up on campus, other Vietnamese knew that her family was rich and that the school had wasted valuable financial aid funding on an undeserving student. The result was loss of institutional face and resources that could have helped a deserving student.
Another more recent story is about a state university that automatically awarded a certain amount of financial aid to ALL Vietnamese students, as if all Vietnamese were poor and deserved it. No due diligence. Apply, get admitted and, bingo!, you’re golden. Again, a waste of financial aid dollars that could have gone to qualified and deserving students.
What To Do?
How to screen students? I remember working with one boarding school that offered a fabulous scholarship at their school and an undergraduate education at any university in the world. They were looking specifically for an economically disadvantaged yet high-achieving Vietnamese high school student. The selection process included sending staff to the finalists homes to interview them and their parents, and also to make sure they weren’t living in a million-dollar home or driving a luxury automobile. Seeing is believing, to a certain extent, and it worked.
This due diligence is likely to incur an additional cost, given the staff time involved. That’s something institutions should keep in mind.
Some colleagues attempt to obtain this information from the education agents they work with. That requires a high degree of trust, which is not always present.
The safer and less costly alternative is to stick to merit-based scholarships that are linked to objective criteria such as standardized test scores, high school GPAs, and interviews. The one drawback is that urban students from higher social classes disproportionately benefit from this approach.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
P.S.: I wrote about this issue three years ago. Given what I’ve heard recently from various colleagues, it’s worth revisiting.
There is never a dull moment in the dynamic Southeast Asian country of Viet Nam, including among its overseas-bound students. While overall interest in study in the US remains strong, there is also ample evidence of a shift to other countries, including Canada.
Below are a couple of excerpts from a blog post I wrote at the invitation of NAFSA’s International Enrollment Management (IEM) Knowledge Community.
While there are some indications that growing numbers of students, who are better informed and more empowered than ever, are applying directly to foreign educational institutions – a trend that we should all encourage because it enables colleagues from admitting institutions to exercise more control over the application process – Vietnam, like most sending countries, is still very much an agent-driven market.
Given this reality and the fact that competition is fiercer than ever, colleagues need to develop a long-term and diversified strategy that includes a variety of non-commission-based recruitment tools and techniques, both digital and offline, in addition to developing a quality and ethical agent network. Working with education agents should be just one of many tools in an institution’s recruitment toolbox. If it’s the only one, your recruitment efforts are doomed to fail in competitive markets.
Here’s a link to the original post, if would like to read it in its entirety on the NAFSA website.
This matter-of-fact assertion does not (and should not) come as a surprise to US colleagues who recruit internationally. Here’s a recent story that inspired this post, so to speak, plus a heartfelt appeal.
I noticed that a number of students had applied to, been admitted by, and received visas to attend a particular school in the US. This interest was the result of a couple of public events and, of course, what the school has to offer, including solid academics and attractive scholarships for qualified and deserving students.
Amazingly, there would have been one more student but she withdrew her application because of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on 14 February 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Her parents decided not to send her to study in the US. (Maybe the USA’s loss is Canada’s gain, in this case?) So, yes, safety, as an essential element of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is a primary concern among parents, as it is for all of us. The writing is on the recruitment wall and those of us who help international students study in the US ignore it at our collective peril.
While the number of young Vietnamese studying in the US is still healthy, these cases give one pause. You might say that this one student is insignificant because there were 31,613 Vietnamese students in the US, as of March 2018, but there are signs that others are following suit. For example, there are about 15,000 Vietnamese students in Canada, nearly half as many as there are in the US, a country with nine times the population and thousands more educational institutions.
Remarkably, Vietnamese students had the highest percentage increase in 2017 at 89%, making Viet Nam the fastest growing market in the country. Canada is now a top five host country for Vietnamese students, after Japan, the USA, and Australia, followed by China.
While US education, both secondary and postsecondary, is still a brand, it no longer sells itself. Current news, e.g., the mass shooting du jour, a relatively high student visa denial rate, the latest policy announcement to require social media information from all visa applicants for the past five (5) years, the latest missile strike, and a roiling cauldron of perceptions (and misperceptions) can have a decisive impact on where a young person studies.
Do You Have Any I HEART Vietnamese Students Stories?
I’ve heard stories from many colleagues about how much they value and appreciate Vietnamese students, not only for the financial contributions they make to their host institution and the communities in which they are located, but their academic performance, their integration into the campus community, their leadership qualities, and their positive attitude.
I would like ask those of you who have worked with Vietnamese students and have such a story share it with me in a 750-word essay, including photos and quotes, if possible. I will take some of these essays and incorporate material into an article about Vietnamese students. I would also like to translate some into Vietnamese and share them widely. By doing this, you will be helping to promote study in the USA in Viet Nam and, indirectly, promoting your institution. Now more than ever is the time to show them (more) love.
Please contact me at markashwill[AT]capstonevietnam.com, if you’re interested in contributing an essay.
…including Australia, Canada, and the USA! Those countries also happen to be the world’s leading hosts of international students, albeit in this order: 1) USA; 2) Australia; and 3) Canada, followed by the UK and Germany.
Of the estimated 200,000 Vietnamese students studying overseas, 23,000 are in Australia (PDF download), about 15,000 are in Canada, and 31,613 are in the US. Japan is the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students with 61,671 in 2017. This means 131,284, or two-thirds, of all Vietnamese studying overseas are in the top four (4) host countries.
This was the original title of my latest University World News article. Why? Because overseas study is not a zero-sum game or a black & white issue but rather a complex and technicolor phenomenon with many different forces at work, including push and pull factors.
While it’s true that growing numbers of Vietnamese student are choosing Canada as an overseas study destination for the reasons I mention in the article, the USA remains a top destination, along with Australia and the UK, among the English-speaking countries. The top six (6) leading host countries for Vietnamese students are Japan, the USA, Australia, Canada, China, and the UK.