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Vietnam Country Information

Vietnam Country Director:
Minh Chau Nguyen
Student Recruitment Manager
RMIT University Vietnam

Vietnam Snapshot
Compiled from by Chau Nyugen

Enrollment Surges in Vietnam's Vocational Schools

Vocational schools in Vietnam were long considered less favorable than universities. Today they are experiencing a spike in enrollment. Vocational schools, under the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs, are becoming attractive to students because they guarantee employment to all students after graduation.

This is the first year the Ministry of Education and Training started maintianing separate enrollment data for vocational schools. Vocational schools made concerted efforts to attract students by updating core curriculum, connecting with enterprises and designing the course as per enterprises' demand to ensure employment for students.

Students in vocational schools enjoy short courses and are guaranteed jobs after graduation. Partnership programs between schools and enterprises help deliver training courses to students who are taken on as a graduate trainee in the school's partnered companies and the companies recruit students after graduation.

Vietnam Universities' New Ranking Stirs Controversy

The most reputable economics schools ranked below average on a list of 49 schools surveyed by a group of six specialists from Vietnamese and foreign institutions.

The ranking, announced on September 6, showed that some young schools, which are less prestigious in Vietnamese eyes, were rated highly, while the older schools, which set high requirements for incoming students, were ranked below average, or at the bottom of the list.

Hanoi National University is in the first position. The country's leading medical schools in HCMC and Hanoi are in the 18th and 20th positions, though they are well known as schools which select only the best students.

According to Le Truong Tung, president of FPT University, a good school must have good training, research, internationalization, and a high employment rate of graduates. He commented that the surveyors mostly considered the first two criteria, or 'classic criteria', while neglecting the other criteria, which are exceedingly important in the globalization era.

Doubts were raisedabout the sources of materials the specialists used to determine the ranking.

Meanwhile Nguyen Huu Duc, deputy director of the Hanoi National University, pointed out three shortcomings. First, there are no opinions from independent scientists. Foreign ranking organizations would appreciate opinions from scientists. For example, to assess a school with physics training, they would contact physicists to learn if the school has any famous professors or PhDs in the field.

Second, as there are multidisciplinary and single-training major schools, it is necessary to set up criteria for different groups of schools. Third, there are no opinions from employers.

The specialists assessed schools based on three criteria: scientific research, education quality, and infrastructure and management, with the first two accounting for 80 percent of the scores.

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Update from Vietnam by Minh Chau Nguyen

An overview of Vietnamese high school student's program choice in 2016

Key highlights of the 2016 HCMC Centre of Labour Forecasting career survey conducted with 120 high schools in Ho Chi Minh City:

  • Students chose a program according to the economic development of their cities and areas. The majority of students were interested in areas that have major growth such as Technology and Economic & Finance
  • In 2016, the demand for programs on Engineering/Technology was highest, occupied 24.84 % (a reduction of 1.20% is compared with 2015), which focused on the following industries: Electronics – Mechatronics; Information Technology; Food Technology; Architecture - Engineering construction.
  • The proportion of students selecting Economics & Finance programs was 14.90% (in 2015 only 14.50%), and is primarily geared toward programs in Marketing-Public Relations; Finance - Credit-banking; Accountancy and Auditing.
  • The trend of blocks across other professions also showed positive growth as follows: Tourist services - Restaurants - Hotels were 17.56%; IT (8.84%); MKT (6.82%); Engineering - Mechatronics (5.88%) ; translation (3.44%) ; Finances - Credit banking (2.89%)
  • Other area of interest also included: Pharmacy - Cosmetics (0.8%); Gas / Oils - Geology (0.17%); Textiles - Leather (0.75%)

Table 1: Career Trends of High School Students (HCM city) in 2016

Number Occupation Year 2016
1 Technology 25%
2 Business - Services 23%
3 Social Sciences-Humanities 17%
4 Administration-Management 7%
5 Economics-Finances 15%
6 Others 13%

University accounted for the highest percentage of 87.00% Bachelor degree; 7.00% college degree and middle - ranking took 6.00%.

Table 2: Trend of Level of Education (HCM city) in 2015 & 2016

Education / Degree 2015 2016
Bachelor 87% 87%
College 9% 7%
Middle-ranking 4% 6%

The newly established HCMC Centre for Career Education Practitioners Development (HCCEPD)

With the increasing need in Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh City in particular, for a proper training program for Education Practitioners, the HCCEPD has been approved to start its operations by end of March. Up to this current time, there isn’t a professional training program for this important group of professionals who can provide career education for students at different levels of studies from secondary school up to university. The complete course consists a 7 days training of total 45 hours. The proposal received strong interest from the public sector. It hopes to train up 200 professionals in 2017.

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Career Planning in Secondary Schools in Vietnam by Chau Nguyen

In this update we would like to share a few key highlights in Vietnam in secondary education. They have created significant impact on Career Guidance Activities in Vietnam and required a shift in focus for practitioners and organizations when engaging with students from the high school sector.

Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) focuses to foster sciences and technology education through student activities and contests

MOET plans to achieve its goal of fostering and improving research and learning activities in science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at HS through the following:

  • Encourage HS students to get involved in STEM research activities and apply relevant knowledge to resolve practical issues.
  • Encourage STEM teachers to research and apply new teaching and assessment methods to support student development in this area.
  • Encourage other educational institutions such as universities, research and development institutions, industries and individuals to support STEM activities at HS.
  • Provide opportunities for students and teachers to showcase and exchange their research through contests and exhibitions.

The National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020) and new regulations around compulsory and elective subjects for the Grade 12 graduation exam

The Vietnamese education system, from primary through high school, is strongly influenced and driven by the new direction of the National Foreign Languages 2020 project (2008-2020). The project's aim is to improve the English ability of Vietnamese students at all levels from primary to tertiary.

To facilitate the implementation of the regulations, MOET issued an English qualification framework. It consists of six levels and requires students to be at level 3 (B1) when they graduate from high school. It also focuses on teaching mathematics and some science subjects in English.

High School teachers are required to submit an IELTS certificate of 6.5 or alternatively to attend an intensive six-month English course created by MOET.

New Grade 12 graduation exam and new university entry requirements (2014-2015)

In the academic year 2014-2015, Vietnamese high school students could enroll in up to four universities using their high school graduation results for four continuous intakes (August, September, October and November).

As a result, most students gained a place in a university or college but not necessarily in their preferred program. A second result was that most local universities were able to fill seats but did not get the top quality students that they were expecting.

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Toward a More Student-Centered Career Guidance in Secondary Education in Vietnam by Nguyen Thi Chau and Filip Lenaerts

The Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB) is a non-profit organization that, by order of the Belgian and the Flemish Government, contributes to the improvement of the quality of education in developing countries. VVOB has been working in Vietnam since 1992. Its initial approach of sending hands-on experts in education and agriculture to local Universities and Colleges gradually transformed into a more results-based approach, focusing on institutional capacity development. Building on the experience of the 2008-2010 Education and Agricultural Extension Programs, VVOB launched a Career Guidance Program in 2011 to support the enhancement of Study and Career Guidance in secondary education in Vietnam. Since 2014, VVOB is specializing in education and is focusing on Early Education in Vietnam, complemented with a 2014-2015 extension of its work in Career Guidance.

The Career Guidance Program targets teachers, school leaders and parents of secondary students. The operational partners are the Departments of Education and Training and Women's Union in Nghe An and Quang Nam provinces, as well as the Department of Teachers and Educational Administrators of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) and the Vietnam Women's Union at the national level. Study and Career Guidance in secondary education in Vietnam follows two tracks: (i) Career Orientation is provided through specific periods and extra-curricular activities; and (ii) vocational taster courses, called education for general professions, are delivered at secondary schools and Centers for Vocational Education and Career Orientation.

When VVOB launched its Career Guidance Program, a situation analysis showed that materials on Career Guidance were outdated, teachers were not trained on providing Career Guidance and parents, based on their own preferences, were deciding on career choices for their children. In this context, students' interests and capacities were marginally considered. Following a review of current policies and guidelines, international and national experiences and a search for existing expertise in the country, VVOB supported the provincial partners in developing their own vision of Career Guidance.

This Career Guidance vision provides a reference framework for the integration of program interventions and reference materials. With a strong expertise in supporting education for development, VVOB Vietnam focuses on capacity development of its partners to develop contextualized materials, support career guidance practice in secondary schools and support and enhance skills of provincial core group trainers in charge of training teachers, school leaders and women's club facilitators. We have started from commonly used and validated Career Guidance theories and translated these into practices through easy-to-use instruments and tools. To date, six different Career Guidance resources and three supportive DVDs were developed for school leaders and secondary teachers. These materials are used by provincial partners to facilitate different modalities to guide students in their study of career choices in line with four main "career guidance paths" as guided by MOET. In addition to the training materials developed, an online portal for Career Guidance has been set up to provide information and support on study and career choices:

Following almost three years of program implementation, approximately 28,000 secondary teachers, including 17,260 female teachers, have received some level of training in Career Guidance through the provincial Departments of Education and Training. The model of "Education and Life Clubs," used by the provincial Women's Union to deliver Career Guidance activities to parents, has been recognized by the national Women's Union as a best practice. From 2013 onwards, Study and Career Guidance has been taken up by the national Women's Union as an important subject for enhancing parenting skills of mothers and fathers. The National Program for 5 million mothers has added the study of career guidance activities of Education & Life Clubs to the list of regular activities for all provinces.

Building on the initial success of the 2011-2013 program, VVOB Vietnam has committed to support the partners in further improving Career Guidance in Vietnam in the next two years. The extension will focus on sustainability of earlier achieved results in three ways: (i) by supporting in-depth institutionalization of technical knowledge built among partners and their core groups, including gender mainstreaming; (ii) by enlarging the reach of this student-centered, gender-sensitive Career Guidance approach to a nation-wide scope; and (iii) by documenting and sharing innovative practices in secondary schools.

New materials on career guidance developed by the program in collaboration with partners

Teachers sharing experiences in
implementing CG activities

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