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Vietnam pledges to boost education ties with UK, US and Japan

Vietnam has put cross-border education at the centre of bilateral talks with leading foreign partners since appointing its new prime minister, Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, earlier this year. Student mobility, joint universities and vocational training were highlighted during state visits from Japan, the UK and the US in the last month.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) spoke at Vietnam National University-Hanoi during his visit. Photo: US Embassy in Hanoi.

“We can imagine a future 20 years from now where there are not just 19,000 Vietnamese studying in the United States—but 90,000, or even more"

This week the Ministry of Education and Training signed agreements with 17 Japanese universities to boost student mobility and lower tuition fees during a visit from Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Welcoming Hase, the prime minister said education is the two countries’ strongest area of collaboration, noting that in recent years the flow of students has grown in both directions.

He also welcomed support from Japan in the form of workforce training, Official Development Assistance to upgrade Vietnam’s universities and the development of academic partnerships between institutions in the two countries.

During his visit to Vietnam, Minister Hase also outlined Japan’s plan to establish a foundation to launch the Japanese education model in Vietnam and receive Vietnamese doctors conducting research on cancer treatment in the future.

The Japanese delegation’s visit followed a trade mission by UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who met with Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and Pham Binh Minh, Vietnam’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, in Hanoi last month.

“The UK is at the forefront of supporting Vietnam’s education reform plans and collaborating on science and technology”

During the visit, the two governments reiterated their shared ambition to increase two-way student mobility and to support the goals laid out in a joint statement issued by the Vietnamese government, British Council and UK International Unit at the Vietnam-UK Education Cooperation Forum last year.

They also agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Vietnam-UK University project – working towards the creation of a joint university by 2024 – and expand cooperation in vocational training to develop Vietnam’s workforce.

“The UK is at the forefront of supporting Vietnam’s education reform plans and collaborating on science and technology through the UK’s Newton Fund,” Hammond commented. “I look forward to discussing opportunities for further collaboration.”

Hammond also underlined the importance of economic ties between the two countries, adding that although bilateral trade has more than doubled since 2010, there is “still scope for British companies and products to do much better in this market”.

Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (L), with Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. Photo: VGP.

Hiroshi Hase, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (L), with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. Photo: VGP.

Meanwhile, the US deputy secretary of state, Antony Blinken, also made the trip to Hanoi ahead of a scheduled visit from President Obama later this month.

As well as meeting with government officials, Blinken gave a speech to students at the Vietnam National University-Hanoi, during which he underlined the two countries’ commitment to deepening cooperation in education and bolstering student mobility and heralded the opening of Fulbright University Vietnam later this year.

“Built on an American model of education, this university will emphasise academic independence, inspire innovation, and help new generations of Vietnamese seize the opportunities before them,” he said.

There are currently 19,000 Vietnamese students studying in the US – up 40% in the last seven years, he noted.

“We can imagine a future 20 years from now… where there are not just 19,000 Vietnamese studying in the United States—but 90,000, or even more,” he added.

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