The domestic education market in Vietnam continues to strengthen due to the significant increase in per capita income over the past ten years, the expansion of both the manufacturing and services sectors, and the emphasis Vietnamese families traditionally place on ensuring a strong education for their children. As a result, the domestic offerings continue to improve, but many affluent families look to education sources outside of Vietnam for the best opportunities. The strongest competition to U.S. institutions is from Asia, including Australia and Japan. These countries are able to promote proximity in what is a family-centric society, affordable cost, and the possibility of post-graduate employment. However, as mentioned, international schools are facing stiff competition from Vietnam’s local institutions. According to the 2019- 2020 academic year report of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, there are currently 237 universities (172 public, 65 non-public), 188 colleges, 2,386 upper secondary schools (2,122 public and 264 non-public), 9,551 lower secondary schools (9,536 public and 15 non-public), and 13,970 primary schools (13, 852 public and 118 non-public) operating in Vietnam. Most Vietnamese students in higher education study at the undergraduate level.
According to the data from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET), there were approximately 190,000 Vietnamese students studying abroad in the 2019-2020 academic year, with a vast majority of students abroad focused on post-secondary school opportunities. These numbers continue to grow as families increase their household income and look to send their children abroad to ensure they have access to the best education opportunities.
Educational exchange is a cornerstone of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Vietnam and Vietnam is a top prospect market for U.S. education institutions. The mutual understanding between the two countries’ students will play a key role in the process of expanding our bilateral relations and consolidating our comprehensive cooperation, as these scholars become Vietnam’s future leaders.
Despite the global pandemic, Vietnam is still in the top 10 countries of citizenship with the largest number of international students in the United States, with 32,507 students studying at all education levels in calendar year 2020, according to the data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In addition, Vietnam remains the sixth leading country of origin for all international higher education students in the United States, with 21,631 students studying at U.S. institutions of higher education in the academic year 2020-2021. Among community college enrollment, Vietnamese students continue to constitute the second largest group of foreign students, accounting for almost 11 percent of all international enrollments, according to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual “Open Doors” Report.
Of the 21,631 Vietnamese students enrolled in higher education in the United States, 70.6 percent were undergraduates, 15.6 percent focused on graduate study level, 12.1 percent enrolled in Optional Practical Training (OPT), and the remaining 1.6 percent were pursuing non-degree programs.
Four-year University and Graduate Degrees
The majority of Vietnamese students are interested in four-year undergraduate programs at U.S. universities, though many also extend their studies in the U.S. at the graduate level. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) remain the top selected fields of study by Vietnamese students, followed by Business & Management and Physical/Life Science. In the academic year 2020-2021, the percentage of Vietnamese students pursuing STEM and business/management majors are 46% and 26.9% respectively.
High Schools/Boarding Schools
There is growing interest among Vietnamese families in sending their children to the
U.S. to enroll in high school/boarding schools to better prepare them for a U.S. college education. It is important to note that Vietnamese parents cite their desire for providing a safe and comfortable environment for their kids as a primary criterion for selecting boarding schools. Other factors that go into the family’s decision making are financial aid/scholarship packages and the relationships a school has with community colleges and universities, allowing their student to transition to a U.S. institution smoothly and seamlessly.
Education remains a cornerstone of the United States-Vietnam bilateral relationship and as such, the U.S. Commercial Service stands ready to assist education institutions in learning about market opportunities and challenges and introducing them to pre-qualified potential Vietnamese education consultancies/agencies.
There are several education fairs in Vietnam annually, including events organized by EducationUSA. The EducationUSA fairs are some of the largest and best attended events of their kind in Vietnam. For more information, please visit Educationusa.state.gov.
Information about studying in the USA is available at the Education USA website, representing a global network of more than 400 advisory centers supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. Commercial Service in Vietnam: https://trade.gov/vietnam
U.S. Commercial Service’s Global Education Team: https://trade.gov/education-industry
For more information about this sector please contact:
Ms. Ngan Thai, Commercial Assistant
U.S. Commercial Service Hanoi – U.S. Embassy Hanoi
Ms. Nguyen Huong, Commercial Assistant
U.S. Commercial Service Ho Chi Minh City – U.S. Consulate General in HCMC