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Innovators of education in Vietnam

Vietnam’s educational landscape is transforming dramatically, with many institutions promoting innovative approaches that emphasize linkages with industry, real-life applications, holistic formation, collaborative learning and combined global and local perspectives.

Established 16 years ago as the country’s first international university, RMIT Vietnam is a trailblazer in modernizing Vietnam’s educational system. Much like its parent institution, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the school has strong connections with many industries, such as communications, digital media and design. It prides itself in formulating fresh approaches to teaching, learning and career building.

With RMIT Vietnam Executive Director for Engagement Jan Clohessy (left) and Communications Manager Tran Huynh Nha Tran (right)

Working closely with the ministry of education, RMIT Vietnam conducts workshops for educators on use of technology in teaching and equips them with skills on career counseling. It also adopts an industry-based approach with local and international partners to make learning practical. The school also has an entrepreneurship program wherein students incubate and develop startups with local companies. And to through its global exchange and personal development programs, it helps students foster intercultural ties and networking skills.

“We are here to give back and contribute to Vietnam. We do that in a positive way by producing outstanding graduates and helping build industry,” RMIT Vietnam Executive Director for Engagement Jan Clohessy said.

Meanwhile, inaugurated in 2016, Fulbright University Vietnam boasts an international faculty and a holistic and humanities-based approach to education. Among its well-known partnerships with prestigious institutions is with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

With FUV President Thuy Dam (center), Vice President Ted Osius (2nd from left) and Director of Communications Lam Bui (far right)

FUV is a response to strengthen relations between the United States and Vietnam and boost the Vietnamese economy through quality education. Over the past 20 years, student exchanges have grown from 800 to 50,000 between the two countries, while trade has increased to around $55 billion.

While American in origin, FUV is deeply rooted in Vietnamese culture.

“The Fulbright mission is to be a Vietnamese institution but embrace the highest international standards, including those in American legal education,” FUV President Thuy Dam said.

Although it is only two-years old, FUV has overseen significant headway in improving Vietnam’s educational system. The university is planning a so-called grand challenge initiative, which will identify 3 or 4 major issues in the region for students to address and solve.

It will also soon introduce a Core Design year on top of the standard 4-year program. A product of student-teacher collaboration, the additional year will become a prototype curriculum that will enable students to focus on real-life challenges and become transdisciplinary problem solvers.

Another global player in Vietnamese education is the American Education Group, a language training and study abroad consultancy that connects young students to world-class high schools and universities in the United States. AEG provides English learning services through its STEAM and IELTS practice programs, and advises students on how to apply for degree programs and scholarships abroad.

With AEG CEO Richard Sherwood

AEG CEO Richard Sherwood noted that many Vietnamese students go overseas and return not just with a more diverse set of skills but also with a broader perspective and sense of giving back.

“[These students] are having an impact on businesses and on the government, making them more transparent and less corrupt. I would like to believe that the biggest contribution that we’ve made is helping a great big bunch of kids have a different worldview,” Sherwood said.

The group plans to expand its STEAM services and extend its scholarship opportunities to more students.

“We’d like more young people to have access to that kind of preparatory education for university,” he also said.

After 20 years in Hanoi, AEG recently opened a second center in Ho Chi Minh City and is set to open a third one later this year.

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Vietnam 2018 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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