Vietnam Education Brief
Educational exchange is a cornerstone of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Vietnam as a top prospect opportunity for U.S. educational institutions.
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 costs, and the possibility of post-graduate employment. However, as mentioned, international schools are facing stiff competition from Vietnam’s local institutions. According to the 2017- 2018 academic year report of the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, currently, there are 236 universities (171 public and 65 private), 188 colleges, 2,398 Upper Secondary schools (2,114 public and 284 private), 10,091 Lower Secondary schools (10,068 public and 23 private), and 14,937 Primary schools (14, 695 public and 242 private) operating in Vietnam. Most Vietnamese students in higher education study at the undergraduate level.
According to the Minister of Education and Training, there were more than 170,000 Vietnamese students studying abroad at the end of 2019, with a vast majority of students abroad focused on post-secondary school opportunities. However, 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 educational opportunities.
Educational exchange is a cornerstone of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Vietnam as a top prospect opportunity for U.S. educational 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.
The total number of Vietnamese students in the U.S. has increased consistently for 18 straight years and remains the sixth leading country of origin for all international students in 2018-2019 after China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, according to the Institute of International Education’s annual “Open Doors” Report. In addition, according to the data from SEVIS and the IIE-Open Doors report respectively, the number of Vietnamese students studying in the U.S. at the end of 2019, across all education levels, was 29,976 students, which contributed almost $1 billion to the U.S. economy.
Of the almost 30,000 Vietnamese students in the U.S., 24,325 students are studying at U.S. higher education institutions, with 69.9 percent in undergraduate programs, 15.2 percent focused on graduate studies, 10.2 percent enrolled in Optional Practical Training, and the remaining 4.6 percent pursuing non-degree programs. America’s secondary schools are proving to be increasingly popular for Vietnamese students and families. SEVIS’s statistics show that at the end of 2019, there were 3,968 students studying in the U.S. at the secondary level, accounting for more than 13% of the 29,976 total Vietnamese students in the U.S. However, it is important to note that there was a 3.55 percent dip in high school students studying in the U.S. during 2018-2019.
4-year Degree University Study
More Vietnamese students are now pursuing 4-year programs at universities. Business management, banking and finance, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs are often the top choices.
Community colleges offer financial and academic accessibility, serve as a bridge for Vietnamese students to acclimate to the English language, American culture, and the U.S. education system. These schools often serve as a transition point to a four-year university.
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 their 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 smoothly and seamlessly transition to a U.S. institution.
Contact: Ms. Huong Nguyen, Commercial Assistant at Huong.Nguyen@trade.gov