Focus on Higher education in European
Enrollment at the tertiary level has grown dramatically in Vietnam over the last decade, with the national gross enrollment ratio (college enrollment as a percentage of the total college-age population) rising from 10 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2005, and 25 percent last year, according to data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics. However, the system faces a raft of challenges in responding to the employment needs of Vietnam’s growing economy, especially as it seeks to climb the value chain away from a focus on low-wage manufacturing towards modern industry and innovation.
In this article, we offer an overview of the Vietnamese higher education system, the challenges it faces, and the reforms needed to improve. In addition, we touch on the current mobility trends of Vietnamese students abroad, finishing with a look at some of the most commonly seen academic credentials, including a file of sample documents and advice on what credentials to request when evaluating Vietnamese files and how best to convert grades.
Vietnam has risen to become a significant source of international students for a number of countries around the world, most notably Australia and the United States which, combined, enrolled 36 percent of the approximately 106, 000 overseas Vietnamese students in 2012. China is the other major destination of choice for Vietnamese students, enrolling 13, 500 in 2011, while Asia on the whole accounts for an estimated 34 percent of international enrollments (36, 000). This share is likely to grow, according to observers, who point to the price sensitivity of Vietnamese students and recruitment efforts of countries like Singapore and Taiwan, both of which are increasingly popular destinations for Vietnamese students.
In the United States, according to the most recent from the Institute for International Education, there were 16, 098 Vietnamese students on U.S. study visas in academic year 2012/13, making it of tertiary students to the United States. This compares to just over 2, 000 students in 2000/01, with especially significant increases seen in the years between 2005 and 2010 at a time when the Vietnamese economy and per capita income were booming.
Nearly 50 percent of Vietnamese students in U.S. higher education are studying either business or engineering, with business-related majors making up 38 percent of all enrollments in 2012/13.
It is currently estimated that 90 percent of Vietnam’s overseas student body is self-funded, ten times more than was the case at the turn of the century. And while per capita income has increased substantially in recent years, it was still just $1, 755 last year, which is low even by regional standards. Not surprisingly, therefore, Vietnamese students are quite price sensitive, a fact not lost on regional recruiters from countries like China, Singapore and Taiwan who promote their institutions for their relative proximity and affordability.