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ERIC Number: EJ846670
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May-15
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
American Colleges Raise the Flag in Vietnam
Overland, Martha Ann
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n36 pA1 May 2009
More than 30 years after the U.S. ambassador was airlifted from the embassy rooftop in Saigon with the flag tucked under his arm, a new American flag is going up in the city. This one won't be flying over the embassy. The Stars and Stripes, as well as the Texas state flag, are going up at the Saigon Institute of Technology, the only Vietnamese college to offer an American-accredited two-year degree. Houston isn't the only American college to take note of the opportunities in Vietnam. Hundreds of institutions, American and others, have signed memoranda of understanding with Vietnamese counterparts. Dozens offer joint or dual-degree programs. American colleges are helping the Vietnamese design curricula and teaching materials. And interest is still growing. In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), a recent conference sponsored by the U.S. government attracted 100 participants from American academic institutions interested in doing business in Vietnam. With one million students graduating from high school every year, and places for fewer than 20 percent to go on to higher education, Vietnam is promising ground for education prospectors. And with China's education market considered saturated and India's barring foreign degree providers, Vietnam can look pretty enticing. Vietnam, acknowledging that its education system is broken, has hung out the welcome sign, particularly for engineering and computer-science programs, which teach the skills most in demand here. The education ministry actively encourages joint ventures. Visiting foreign professors encounter far less red tape than they did just five years ago. A pilot program even allows some local universities to hire American institutions to redesign their curricula and train their faculty members to teach the material. Vietnam, it seems, is the next big thing. Or is it? Whether from inertia, frustration, or both, plenty of those signed memoranda are gathering dust on administrators' shelves. Joint degree programs, begun with great fanfare, have closed and quietly gone away. Vietnam may have embraced free-market reforms nearly two decades ago, but its education system remains hobbled by Soviet-style decision making. Despite talk of granting more autonomy, the central government is still involved in faculty hires and sets the curricula at most universities. The lumbering bureaucracy makes even the smallest changes difficult to put into effect. Widespread corruption, from nepotism to kickbacks, has only made it worse.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Vietnam