This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 7/12/2018


Educational exchange is a cornerstone of the U.S. bilateral relationship with Vietnam as a top prospect for U.S. educational institutions. According to Open Doors, in the 2016/17 academic year, Vietnam topped Southeast Asia in students studying in the United States: 22,438, up 4.8% from the previous year. This figure is the sixth highest among countries which have students in the United States. Education constitutes the largest single export category for the United States to Vietnam, representing over $800 million annually. 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.

A significant increase in per capita income in the past ten years, the expansion of both the manufacturing and services sectors, and the value Vietnamese families traditionally place on education are creating substantial opportunities. However, competition will continue to grow as globalization creates more opportunities for study elsewhere. Competitors in Asia (including Australia and Singapore) promote proximity, affordable costs, and the possibility of post-graduation employment. Currently, there are 234 universities and 185 colleges operating in Vietnam. Vietnamese universities have room for only 600,000 students of the over 1.8 million candidates who take the university/college entrance exams. Most Vietnamese students in higher education study at the undergraduate level. In 2016/17, there was 68.0 percent undergraduate, 15.6 percent graduate, 7.4 percent other, and 9.0 percent Optional Practical Training.

Three top priorities of the Vietnamese government in the next ten years include infrastructure, institutional reform, and human resources development. Improving domestic education is a top priority in various plans and the initiatives include ambitious goals, such as a ten percent annual increase in domestic university enrollment and developing a higher education system that is more in line with global standards. Because of this, the Vietnamese government has increased the budget allocations, liberalized private sector involvement, and encouraged foreign participation in developing education and training services. However, many observers find the reform process to be slow and that domestic higher education falls far short of meeting the demand. With more than 50 percent of Vietnam’s population under the age of 30, developing a well-trained labor force is crucial. Education and training are top priorities for the government, which needs to equip the labor force with scientific, technological, and management skills. As new industries expand, a university degree is increasingly essential for young Vietnamese workers searching for higher paying jobs in newly emerging industries.

The government has acknowledged that the current education system is unable to meet the demand. Opportunities for higher education are limited since the system can accommodate only a fraction of those seeking admission. Although the number of university students has doubled since 1990, the number of professors remains virtually unchanged. Furthermore, a large percentage of university graduates cannot find jobs in their perspective fields (or at all) without further training, demonstrating a need for a more practical and effective education. This is making many Vietnamese students to look for education opportunities outside of Vietnam.
Marketing Strategies

Local representation is essential for the success of any U.S. schools in the market. Students and parents depend on people from Vietnam with whom they can clearly communicate about navigating the process of applying for admission and studying in the U.S. A representative could be an alumnus or someone with ties and familiarity with your school to handle in-country marketing and outreach, and serve as a local point of contact. U.S. institutions often appoint a professional education agent to market their schools. Education agents typically represent numerous schools at one time, from the U.S. or other countries, and provide a wide range of counseling services directly to parents and students. U.S. schools seeking agents should thoroughly vet prospective partners before entering into any agreement.

One of the most effective and low-cost ways of recruiting students is to establish and support an alumni network in Vietnam. There is no better promoter of your school than a student who has achieved success and returns to Vietnam to tell his/her friends and family about their experiences. Annually, there are several education fairs in Vietnam, including events organized by Education USA. The Education USA fairs are the largest and most-attended events in Vietnam. For more information, please visit

Stand-alone Marketing Events

Universities or university consortia frequently organize outreach visits to local high schools, holding seminars and counseling sessions, often employing a local partner or representative to organize and handle the necessary paperwork and public event approval process. U.S. Schools should familiarize themselves with the many groups in Vietnam that are promoting U.S.-Vietnam education exchange, such as the nonprofit organization VietAbroader ( and the Vietnam Education and Training Consortium - VETEC ( While many prospective students are comfortable with English, schools will reach a wider audience and have more appeal with promotional material translated into the Vietnamese language.

U.S. Commercial Service Programs

Many U.S. colleges and universities do not have the financial resources to launch expensive recruitment strategies in Vietnam. The U.S. Commercial Service has designed a series of promotional opportunities to assist the institutions. 

Targeting the Agent Market through Virtual Agent Fairs: Participating schools join these virtual matchmaking fairs that introduce appropriate education agents, school counselors, and other partners via a web-based (“webinar”) meetings. Virtual partner fairs will concentrate on specific segments, such as undergraduate programs, community colleges, and Intensive English Program segments. 

Targeting the Agent Market through Gold Key Matchmaker Programs: Participating schools get individually tailored programs and come to Vietnam for face-to-face meetings with prescreened potential partners and important contacts from the educational market.

Targeting the Student Market through U.S. Catalog Pavilions in Hanoi and HCMC: Participating schools can gain market exposure and collect leads at Vietnam’s largest student fairs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The Commercial Service frequently organizes U.S. pavilions at education fairs that highlights participating schools, and then collects and disseminates leads to the clients for their direct follow-up.

Leading Sub-Sectors

op areas of study for Vietnamese students include engineering, business and management, math, and computer science (STEM). In addition, there are many opportunities that target the specific needs of the Vietnamese market.
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

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. educational system. These schools often serve as a transition point to a four-year university. Vietnam is the 2nd largest country of origin for students at U.S. community colleges.

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, comfortable environment for their kids as a primary criterion for selecting boarding schools.


The greatest opportunities are with community colleges and four-year degree programs. On the heels of President Trump’s visit to Vietnam in November 2017, the above data demonstrates the increasingly strong ties between the United States and Vietnam. As President Trump noted in his speech at the APEC CEO Summit, “Vietnamese students rank among the best students in the world, and that is very impressive.” Education will remain a cornerstone of the United States-Vietnam bilateral relationship and provide opportunities to American education institutions.

Web Resource

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
Higher Engineering Education Alliances
Viet Abroader
Vietnam Education and Training Center

more information about this sector please contact:
Ms. Ngo Anh, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service Hanoi - American Embassy in Hanoi

Ms. Nguyen Huong, Commercial Assistant
U.S. Commercial Service Ho Chi Minh City – U.S. Consulate General in HCMC


Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

Vietnam Education Trade Development and Promotion