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Vietnam: TNE preference among families mapped

Vietnamese families have a “clear preference” for international and transnational education opportunities over local alternatives, research has indicated.

The research confirmed that parents remain the key decision-makers when it comes to choosing a college or university. Photo: pexels

Half of all respondents said they would be willing to pay at least US$8,400 per year for an international program taught in Vietnam

The Vietnam Voices: Consumer Attitudes Towards Transnational Education in Vietnam report by Acumen, part of Sannam S4 Group, sought the view of some 1,000 parents with both higher disposable income levels and children between 8 and 22 years old in the south east Asian country.

It found that 85% of responding parents showed an openness for their children to enrol on TNE programs.

Some 48% said both study overseas or education at an official in-country branch campus was a preference at the higher education level. A further 44% preferred international programs taught fully or partially by Vietnamese colleges or university.

This is compared to 34% of parents who said they preferred local programs taught by Vietnamese institutions.

At vocational level, 38% selected international training taught in the country over 16% who would rather their children studied local Vietnamese vocational training.

The report also compared sentiments between respondents from six big cities – Ho Chi Minh City, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Can Tho, Da Nang and Nha Trang – with those answers collected from other regions.

It found that “outside of six key cities, there is a relatively greater demand for vocational training options”. Additionally, respondents from the cities seemed slightly more open to international education opportunities.

Photo: Acumen

The Vietnam Voices report is the “culmination of many months of work and reflects our belief that the Vietnam market will see a step-change in TNE provision in the coming years”, according to Haike Manning, Acumen’s executive director for Southeast Asia.

The report will benefit TNE providers working in Vietnam, as well as those interested in entering the “important market”, the former New Zealand Ambassador to Vietnam said.

“There are more than 400 approved joint programs in Vietnam”


Half of all respondents said they would be willing to pay at least US$8,400 per year for an international program taught in Vietnam. An additional 67% said they’d be willing to take out loans if actual tuition exceeded their ability to pay.

Again, prospective students and their parents from the key cities appeared to be marginally more open to international programs and opportunities.

Photo: Acumen


With more than 200,000 Vietnamese students studying abroad per year prior to 2020, Vietnam has been a top six market for key destination markets such as the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Acumen noted.

TNE in the country is “a little more greenfield” than in Malaysia or Singapore, there are already many programs in Vietnam, including some very successful programs, Manning explained to The PIE.

“An excellent recent example is the Swinburne-FPT collaboration, involving delivery of multiple Swinburne programs in Vietnam,” he said.

While the survey found a “slight preference” for branch campuses among respondents to the survey, there is only one “genuine branch campus” option at the moment, in the RMIT campus, Manning continued.

“We are however seeing plenty of uptake and enthusiasm for joint programs/franchise programs as well.

“There are more than 400 approved joint programs in Vietnam, as well as many articulation/credit transfer agreements. These joint programs offer some advantages to families both in terms of price as well as in terms of optionality – many programs provide the option for students to transfer to the international partner after a certain period, or to opt to complete their programs entirely in Vietnam.”

However, barriers remain for potential TNE providers. Finding local partners whose objectives and vision align is “probably the biggest challenge”, Manning said, while approval processes and high capital requirements can present some challenges to setting up foreign-invested branch campuses.

“Getting programs to run effectively and deliver results remains the bigger challenge”

“The actual setting up of TNE programs (particularly joint programs) or articulation agreements is relatively straightforward, particularly with experienced local partners. Getting those programs to run effectively and deliver results remains the bigger challenge!” he added.

Regarding branch campuses, Acumen assesses that there will be “more branch campuses in Vietnam in the coming time”.

“In the meantime, working in partnership with Vietnamese universities will be the primary route for TNE delivery. The key thing is finding the right partner,” he said, a service which companies including Acumen offer.

The research also found that while parents still prefer public institutions when looking at international programs in Vietnam, 40% are open to private providers or do not have a strong preference.

A year after Acumen surveyed 10,000 Indian students in its first public report, ‘10K Indian Voices’ (covered in The PIE News), the company is seeking to help international providers gain important market insights in key markets in South and South East Asia.

Like the Gen Z Indian students surveyed last year, the Vietnam survey found that job opportunities after graduation rank highly, when deciding the most important factors when choosing international programs in Vietnam – chosen by 71% of respondents.

However, the most important factor was quality of education, selected by 76% of 870 parents responding to the question. The third most important influence was the reputation of the institution.

The US, UK and Australia rank most highly among Vietnamese parents for providing TNE programs, it added.

“The future is bright for TNE providers in Vietnam, as the middle-class population is rising, there is a clear preference for international programs,” the report stated.

“We are at a tipping point for TNE in Vietnam,” Manning concluded. “There is growing market demand for these programs – particularly full in-country delivery, as well as increasing openness from the Vietnamese government to these arrangements. Vietnamese universities also see TNE partnerships as a key pathway to internationalisation.”

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