HIGHER EDUCATION IN VIETNAM:
AMERICAN – VIETNAMESE
Sheraton Saigon Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
January 15–16, 2009
Executive Summary 1
Ambassador Michael W. Michalak 5
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan 8
VNU-HCMC President Phan Thanh Binh 10
Consul General Kenneth Fairfax 12
Summary of Conference Sessions 18
Participating American Institutions 85
Breakout Session Summaries 126
Contact Information 140
Organized by the U.S. Embassy, Hanoi,
Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City,
and the Ministry of Education and Training
HIGHER EDUCATION IN VIETNAM:
AMERICAN – VIETNAMESE PARTNERSHIPS
Sheraton Saigon Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
January 15–16, 2009
This Education Conference – organized by the U.S. Mission in Vietnam; Vietnam
National University, Ho Chi Minh City; and the Ministry of Education and Training –
brought together almost 400 American and Vietnamese educators and officials for two days of discussions about how best to promote deeper linkages between American and Vietnamese educational institutions.
Those linkages support a number of educational goals shared by both countries, including increasing the flow of Vietnamese students to the United States; meeting the human resource needs of American and Vietnamese companies in Vietnam‘s
modernizing economy; and improving the quality of Vietnam‘s system of higher education.
Welcome remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Michalak highlighted the importance of education in the relationship between the two countries and noted many of the educational programs that the U.S. Mission operates in Vietnam. Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan noted the importance of education in Vietnam‘s development plans, while those by Vietnam National
University, Ho Chi Minh City President Phan Thanh Binh described some of his university‘s linkages with American universities and colleges. On Day 2, Consul
General Kenneth Fairfax welcomed the participants with remarks noting the many activities of the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City to support educational linkages.
Several of the Conference‘s seven sessions focused on the experiences of American
and Vietnamese partners in launching and developing joint educational programs, including 2+2 programs and the Ministry of Education and Training‘s (MOET‘s) Advanced Program. Other sessions focused on what has worked best in promoting undergraduate and graduate study in the United States by Vietnamese students, and on ways to promote private-public sector partnerships to develop human resources in Vietnam.
A presentation by members of the U.S.-Vietnamese Education Task Force of the Task Force‘s preliminary findings enabled the Task Force to receive feedback from participants before finalizing its recommendations. The Task Force, created during a visit to the U.S. by President Dung in June, 2008, will present its Final Report to American and Vietnamese leaders in March, 2009.
The Conference also included an evening reception, hosted by the U.S. Consulate General, at which participants continued discussion in a more informal atmosphere.
Six informal breakout sessions were held after the Conference formally ended, enabling six organizations to share information on their activities with others.
Representatives from a wide range of American and Vietnamese organizations with an interest in education in Vietnam participated in the Conference, including:
American Vietnamese .
Institutions Individuals Institutions Individuals
Educational Institutions 60 102 71 128
NGOs with Ed. Programs 25 43 1 2
Companies 32 46 9 10
Government Officials 1 29 6 23
TOTAL 118 220 87 163
Results of the Conference
Through formal Conference sessions, informal breakout sessions, and networking opportunities between sessions and at the reception, American and Vietnamese educators became more aware of the wide variety of joint programs underway in Vietnam, and of the solutions that others have found to obstacles encountered by many participants. Important points made include ensuring that both partners are committed at the highest levels to the joint program, that both sides understand fully their responsibilities, that students understanding the terms of the program before enrolling, and that MOET simplify the procedures for establishing new joint programs.
Representatives of American companies also learned more about the educational and training activities of other companies, and of ways that they can work with each other and with Vietnamese universities to create courses and programs enabling students to acquire the skills needed by American and Vietnamese companies. Speakers from Intel, Rockwell Automation and Oracle noted that their programs provide financial support for schools through laboratories and teacher training, for students through scholarships and internships, and for themselves through the supply of graduates with the skills their companies need. They also noted that those programs with universities that succeed the best are those with open, honest communication from both sides and in which both sides demonstrated a sustained commitment to the program.
Another benefit of the Conference was the feedback that the U.S.-Vietnam Education Task Force received on its preliminary findings, thus enabling it to refine its recommendations before submitting its Final Report to the leaders of the two countries. Several participants noted the need to set priorities for systemic changes to Vietnam‘s educational system, while others urged that changes occur in many tracks simultaneously, including teacher training, English language training, support for private as well as public universities, and the need to upgrade salaries and teaching
conditions so that those educated abroad will return to teach at Vietnamese universities rather than work in the private sector. Many participants also volunteered to serve on one or more of the four advisory groups that will continue after the Task Force‘s life ends.
The Conference was a valuable opportunity for officials of the two governments to learn more about the wide range of ongoing joint educational activities in Vietnam. It also enabled them to learn more about the educator‘s concerns and areas where government action can help facilitate their joint programs.
Throughout the Conference, participants – from universities and colleges, companies,
and governments – emphasized the critical importance of English language skills for Vietnamese students and workforce. Among the many ideas proposed for improving language skills were introducing English instruction earlier in primary school and broadcasting English language acquisition programs on TV and radio for adults. Universities and colleges with joint programs also noted that they have introduced English courses to prepare students for courses taught in English by American professors.
This Report is intended to capture the most important of the wide range of discussions that took place during the Conference. It is not intended necessarily to provide solutions, but to ensure that the information and ideas that arose during the Conference are widely available to those who might find them relevant for their own activities in Vietnam.
In addition to this Report, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi is also preparing a comprehensive list of all American organizations with educational programs in Vietnam, information about those programs, and contact information for those in charge of them. That Report will be available by June, 2009.
WELCOME REMARKS BY
AMBASSADOR MICHAEL W. MICHALAK
Dr. Bành Tiến Long,
Standing Vice Minister, Ministry of Education and Training
Dr. Phan Thanh Bình, President,
Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City
Honored Conference participants,
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen!
It is with the greatest pleasure that I welcome you to this important Conference –
Higher Education in Vietnam: American-Vietnamese Partnerships.
I want to say how pleased I am to see so many people in this room. I‘m so glad that you all recognize the importance of partnerships between American and Vietnamese institutions in helping Vietnam meet the educational needs of its own society and those of the many American companies that are flocking to Vietnam.
This Conference is designed to promote more and deeper cooperation between American and Vietnamese universities, colleges, companies and NGOs by bringing their representatives together for two intense days of discussions about how best to reach key educational goals. Those goals include
1) Establishing more and deeper linkages and joint programs between American
and Vietnamese universities and colleges;
2) Increasing the number of Vietnamese studying at American universities and
colleges, especially Ph.D. students, and
3) Promoting educational programs designed to help Vietnamese students
acquire the technical, analytical, and managerial skills needed in Vietnam‘s
This Education Conference is the latest in a series of steps taken over the past year and a half to strengthen education cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam.
Even before arriving in Vietnam eighteen months ago, I was aware that education is a key component of the relationship between the United States and Vietnam. I was aware of the importance of educational exchanges, and in my Confirmation Hearings called for a doubling of the number of Vietnamese students in the U.S.
(Incidentally, I just received confirmation that we might have already reached that goal – there are now more than twice as many Vietnamese students in the U.S. as there were before I arrived in Hanoi a year and a half ago – and I am happy to take
full credit for that accomplishment, though of course it is the result of much work by many other people, including many of you in this room.)
I was aware before coming to Vietnam that Vietnamese leaders, including Prime Minister Dung and President Triet, had requested American and other international assistance to help Vietnam train its next generation and modernize its educational system.
After arriving in Vietnam, I learned of the many American organizations working here in education. Discussions with many of you convinced me that the United States has much to offer Vietnam, but that there was no common understanding of the many programs and initiatives underway.
To develop that understanding, we convened the first Education Conference a year ago to gauge the scope of education projects carried out by American stakeholders. As a result of that Conference, we are all now much more aware of the activities of American organizations, and we can see much greater coordination between them, and between them and Vietnamese institutions.
Following that Conference, Prime Minister Dung consulted with more than a dozen senior American educators at an Education Roundtable during his highly successful June 2008 visit to Washington. Another outcome of that visit was the creation of an Education Task Force charged with producing joint recommendations for both governments by January, 2009 to strengthen U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation in higher education. The Task Force, composed of senior representatives from the governments, higher education communities, and businesses from both countries has met several times. The Task Force also created five committees to address-specific areas, including a roadmap for establishing an American style university in Vietnam, an exciting idea that I am sure is of interest to everyone in this room. Several of these committees will continue their work even after the Task Force‘s final report is completed. I encourage you to volunteer to serve on one or more of them.
I am very pleased that the Task Force will share its preliminary recommendations with you at this Conference before finalizing its Report to the Leaders of the two countries.
The U.S. government supports a number of programs to help Vietnam develop its human resources. I‘d like to mention them briefly.
I‘m very proud of our well-established Fulbright Program, which has helped more
than 400 Vietnamese earn advanced degrees in the United States, while bringing hundreds of American professors to Vietnam over the past 15 years.
The Fulbright Economic Training Program (FETP) which for years offered a wonderfully innovative, intensive one-year economics program now offers a two-year Master‘s Degree in Public Policy.
The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) has already launched the studies of well over 200 Vietnamese scientists in Ph.D. programs in the U.S., and has recently launched a new program to bring American professors to teach in Vietnam.
Our StudyUSA Centers in Hanoi and HCMC, managed by the Institute of
International Education (IIE), provide free information about American universities and colleges. In addition, IIE organizes several Higher Education Fairs in Vietnam each year.
The U.S. Commercial Service has staged a dozen ―Virtual Fairs‖ to bring American universities and colleges together with Vietnamese education institutions that assist students interested in studying in the U.S. It has also set up a ―Study USA‖ website that provides comprehensive and free information on study in the U.S. And, the U.S. Commercial Service is also part of the U.S.-Vietnam ICT Commercial Dialogue formed to promote closer cooperation between education institutions.
As a result of Task Force discussions, in the coming year, the State Department fill fund a number of educational exchange programs designed to assist the Ministry of Education in launching country wide university accreditation and certification programs.
And, the U.S. Agency for International Development recently brought an assessment team to Vietnam to make recommendations for initiating new AID programs in a number of educational sectors. More on this as it develops.
But back to this Conference –
Our conference sessions this year are designed to focus attention and discussion on the types of activities and partnerships already underway. Speakers will give short presentations on their experiences launching and developing their partnerships and projects, focusing on what has worked and what hasn‘t, and on the challenges
encountered along the way and the solutions found.
There presentations will be short so that most of the time in each session will be available for discussion. I encourage all of you to keep your comments short so that as many people as possible can share their experiences and comment on the experiences of others.
In addition to the formal sessions, the Conference also includes six informal breakout sessions focused on more specific topics on Friday afternoon. I hope you will join me at the reception this evening at the U.S. Consulate General for even more relaxed discussions on U.S.-Vietnamese partnerships.
I want to thank the Co-Organizers of this Conference – Vietnam National University,
Ho Chi Minh City, and the Ministry of Education and Training – who worked hard
with the U.S. Mission to organize this Conference. In particular, Dr. Le Quang Minh, Vice President, Vietnam National University, HCMC and Dr. Trần Thị Hồng,
Director, Department of International Relations, at VNU, HCMC deserve our thanks for all their good ideas and hard work.
And I want to thank the sponsors of this Conference – Rockwell Automation, English
Language Services, and the Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers – for contributions
that made this Conference possible. Rockwell Automation‘s assistance made
possible the reception that we will enjoy this evening, and assistance from English Language Services and the Sheraton Saigon made it possible for the Conference to be held in this beautiful location.
Perhaps you can judge from the length of my remarks that I am personally committed to expanding and deepening our education relationship with Vietnam. Doing so, I believe, is the surest way to ensure Vietnam‘s continued rapid economic development and to increase the friendship between our two countries.
I know that all of you are investing considerable time and resources to attend this Conference and I am really, truly grateful for your coming, and hope that you will find the discussions to be informative, productive, and enjoyable. I look forward to continue to work with all of you – as you work together – on the important
educational goals we share.
Thank you very much.
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WELCOME REMARKS (BY DVC) BY
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER NGUYEN THIEN NHAN
Dear Mr. Michael W. Michalak, the U.S Ambassador to Vietnam,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Training, I warmly welcome you, distinguished guests, educators, professors, business representatives, Vietnamese and American experts to this ―Vietnam - US Higher Education Cooperation Forum‖
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The past few years have seen significant progress in educational cooperation between Vietnam and the U.S. 80 American universities have established their partnership programs in Vietnam, more and more American professors and students have come to Vietnam to teach and study, and almost 10,000 Vietnamese students are now studying at various universities and colleges in the United States.
June 2008 also saw a landmark in educational cooperation between our two countries: the signing of the MOU between the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam and the U.S. State Department to promote the cooperation in higher education and establish the U.S. – Vietnam Education Task Force and witnessed by H.E. Nguyen
Tan Dung, the Prime Minister of Vietnam.
As the result of this historical meeting, an Education Task Force on Higher Education has been formed with the participation of dedicated and experienced experts from both sides to identify key areas of cooperation, among them are the establishment of a Vietnamese – American University, the training of 2500 PhD Students at top American universities, the introduction and application of American advanced programs at selected Vietnamese universities, the creation of an effective, objective, academic-based system of accreditation of higher education and the supports for English language teaching for Vietnamese teachers and students.
I am very impressed to hear that more than 200 representatives from American universities, businesses and educational organizations are here together with 200 representatives from Vietnamese different business and educational institutions. This significant interest and attention to higher education cooperation between Vietnam and America promises future potentials and possibilities for more fruitful win-win cooperation in this area.
I am sorry that due to a very tight business schedule, I won‘t be able to attend the
Forum but I sincerely wish that the Vietnamese and their American counterparts can put their heads together and work out solutions and draw up a roadmap for practical, achievable plans for future cooperation. I look forward to hearing fruitful reports from this Forum.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ambassador for his strong support for educational links between Vietnam and the U.S, thank you all for coming
to this Forum with your open minds, warm hearts, trusted friendship and a sense of construction.
I wish the Forum a success.
On the occasion of the New Year 2009, the Year of the Buffalo, I wish you all and your families the best of health, every success in life and at work.
Thank you for your consideration!
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