Foreign investment has grown and the US is Vietnam's main trading partner.
Vietnam, a one-party communist state, has one of south-east Asia's fastest-growing economies and has set its sights on becoming a developed nation by 2020.
It became a unified country in 1976 after the armed forces of the communist north had seized the south of the country in the previous year.
This followed three decades of bitter independence wars, which the communists fought first against the colonial power France, then against US-backed South Vietnam. In its latter stages, this conflict held the attention of the world.
Foreign investment has grown and the US is Vietnam's main trading partner. In the cities, the consumer market is fuelled by the appetite of a young, middle class for electronic and luxury goods. After 12 years of negotiations the country joined the World Trade Organization in January 2007.
Because of its geography, the climate in Vietnam varies greatly from north to south. Tropical monsoons occur from October to April in the north and south and from May to September in the centre, this is when most of the country's rain falls. It is almost totally dry throughout the rest of the year. It can get exceptionally hot, however, all year round, but the north has a cooler time between October and April. Temperatures around the country often reach 40C (104 F) in the height of the hot and rainy season (May to September), but the northern highlands and Hanoi can often seem chilly in the winter.
Overview of Higher Education
Vietnam's higher education system has undergone dramatic change during the past decade. High growth rates have seen enrollments increase from 162,000 in 1992/93 to 1,045,382 in 2002/03. At the same time, large multidisciplinary universities have become dominant in a system once characterized by small, specialized institutes and colleges. Fourteen universities, out of the more than 200 institutions in the sector, have been designated as "key universities." These universities are generally quite large, even by international standards, and there is an official expectation that they will lead the process of modernization of the higher education system, particularly by developing a strong research culture and capability. These 14 institutions enroll almost one-third of all higher education students, and they include the two national universities—one in Hanoi and the other in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training, there are currently 23 non-public universities, accounting for 11% of the total number of universities. These non-public universities are currently training 119,464 students, or 11.7% of the total number of students. The government is planning to increase the number of non-public universities to 30% by 2011.
Foreign educational institutions are increasingly open in Vietnam. Most of their fields are English language and business, such as RMIT, and the University of Hawaii. As the second country after China with sustained economic growth during the first years of the 21st century, Vietnam is currently revisiting its education system. It recognized the increasing role of English as the language of business and the importance of international cooperation to help adapt the education system, notoriously slow in change management, to the rapid pace of its economy.
Running a foreign education system in Vietnam is relatively challenging. Quality control and affordability are key issues, let alone the challenges related to dealing with a bureaucracy that is still figuring how to deal with the forces of change due to globalization.
Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes
Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (total): 200
Number of Colleges, Universities, and Technical Institutes (private/non-state): 23
Number of Higher Education Students
Number of students enrolled: 1,600,000
Ministry of Education and Training
International Co-operation Department MOET
49 Dai Co Viet Str., Hanoi, Vietnam
Web site: http://en.moet.gov.vn/
Contact: Dzung Tran, Director General