Last year around this time, I wrote a post about about the 100,000+ Vietnamese students who studied in 49 countries and territories in 2011, according to the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET). 90% of them were self-financing. I conservatively estimated the investment in overseas study to be in the $1+ billion range.

billions of dollars

This year’s report, released early this month, revealed that the number of Vietnamese studying overseas had increased to 106, 104 in the 2011/12 academic year. The top host countries included the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Singapore and China - not necessarily in that order. About 35,900, 34%, studied in Asian countries, while nearly 40% were in Australia and the US. The Ministry of Finance estimates that Vietnamese spend $10,000-$15,000 a year on average for each student, which adds up to between $1-1.6 billion.

As Nguyen Truong Giang, a senior Ministry of Finance official, mentioned, and as those who know the Vietnamese higher education and overseas study scene can confirm, one of the driving forces behind this phenomenon is quality, or a lack thereof ,at Vietnamese high schools and universities. This places more pressure on Vietnamese institutions to improve quality. It also creates opportunities for new ventures, including international standard K-12 schools and foreign degree programs, often in partnership with Vietnamese universities. This trend is evident, especially in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).