Vietnam puts great
value in education and training, setting the high demand for international
Vietnamese families usually spend an average of 47 per
cent of their total expenses for their children’s education. In contrast with
the huge demand, the market is still short of modern education models and
courses using renowned international curricula, falling short of parent and
Over the past few years, the Vietnamese private
education scene has seen the entrance of big names like Vinschool, TH School,
VAS Hanoi, Wellspring, Ecokids, and others.
The most highlighted example is Vingroup’s Vinschool.
After more than five years in operation, Vinschool has become the largest
education system in the country, with 27 campuses across mainly Hanoi, Ho Chi
Minh City, and Haiphong, enrolling nearly 23,000 students for the 2018-2019
academic year. Vinschool has taken on a pioneer position by reforming education
in Vietnam, both in curriculum and philosophy.
Doan Hong Nhung, education quality accreditor at
Vietnam National University’s School of Law, told VIR that the majority of
private schools offer good training because they can afford far larger
investments in material facilities than public schools. In addition, they are
careful in selecting teachers by educational background and certificates.
However, there are also challenges to introducing new
education models like the Cambridge curriculum in Vietnam. Tran Hanh An,
founder and CEO of Hoi An International School, told VIR that her education
model focuses on holistic, student-centred education that is academically
rigorous, while at the same time nurturing individual talent, creativity, as
well as cultural and social awareness. The school places emphasis on
cross-cultural daily lessons as well as on community activities to encourage
foreign students, staff, and teachers to learn and communicate in Vietnamese.
To gain the best results, private schools need to
limit the number of students in each class, which reduces investment efficiency
as the new, expensive facilities serve only a small number of students at one
It has been claimed that education offers long-term
sustainable profit with high margins and fewer risks than other investment
sectors. This is also the reason why investors keep pouring money into the
sector. For instance, Cognita Education Fund purchased International School Ho
Chi Minh City and International Primary School Saigon Pearl, while Nord Anglia
Education Fund acquired British International School – with a plethora of deals
between international funds and language centres.
Indeed, pouring capital into education is a stable
investment, without the risk of irrecoverable debts because students have to
pay tuition before enrolment.
Forbes Vietnam recounted that 43 universities and
colleges have announced financial statements so far, with 77 per cent reporting
far higher revenue than expenditures. Of this, the profit margin of foreign
language institutions was the highest in the sector, ranging from 20 to 50 per
Reputable foreign investors in education have been
entering Vietnam, adding more colour and diversity to the palette of teaching
models and courses. This is a great opportunity for local businesses to partner
up with foreign investors to launch courses that suit the local market.
An education organisation reported that Vietnamese
people spend around $3 billion annually to study overseas, a figure rising
rapidly year by year. According to the Ministry of Education and Training
(MoET), 98,000 students received education abroad in the 2010-2011 period,
increasing to 130,000 in 2016. Australia gains an average of $17 billion a year
from overseas students, with a part coming from Vietnamese families.
private education keeps booming
Thanks to the huge demand for private institutions,
investments in private education are forecast to continue. Kieu Xuan Hung,
chairman of University of Economic and Finance’s Management Board, said that
investments in private universities will continue as they educate less than 15
per cent of students in the country, while the Vietnamese government’s target
is to raise the rate to 30 per cent.
is still room for private universities.
Troy Griffiths, deputy managing director of Savills
Vietnam, said that during 2014-2017 an average of one million agricultural
labourers transferred to work in the industrial and services sectors each
year, showing that urbanisation will maintain its dizzying speed in Vietnam.
Therefore, education and training has become a priority to improve the skills
and productivity of local labourers.
Griffiths also said that 41 per cent of the Vietnamese
population is under 24 years old, and the middle class and affluent classes
have been growing sharply, meaning the number of high-spending customers is on
the rise. It is forecast that the demand for higher education will stay high,
but there are concerns about the supply actually falling short of the demand
both in quality and quantity.
Aiming to meet the demand, the MoET in 2018 issued
Decree No.86/2018/ND-CP easing the conditions to establish and operate
international schools. Accordingly, international schools are permitted to
have up to 50 per cent of their students being Vietnamese nationals, instead
of the previous 10-20 per cent. Nguyen Kim Dung, legal director for Apollo and
British University Vietnam, said that the decree has contribute to raising the
number of local students in international schools, meeting the widespread demand
among local parents.
Dong Thi Lan -
Founder and chairman Vietnam-Australia School in Hanoi and Le Quy Don School
Successful investment in education needs
a long-term strategic plan for both financial and human resources. The
biggest achievement of the two school systems is the synchronous system from
kindergarten to high school as well as the modern facilities available from
their establishment. These are the key elements of parents’ beliefs.
Established in 2007, VAS Hanoi was built
on an area of 15,000 square metres, including a spacious football field, a
modern gymnasium, well- managed and safe dormitories, and modern study areas
with more than 200 classrooms and multi-media rooms. Le Quy Don School System
includes three 5,000sq.m campuses. Some private schools in Hanoi now have to
rent classes from other institutions and only a handful can meet
Human resources have been our first
priority. To meet international requirements, teachers not only need to have
class management skills but also teaching experience, the ability to update
and adapt teaching methods, and are evaluated by the School Board annually.
Teachers meeting our requirements will be offered an appropriate salary, so
they do not have to think about doing extra work. Currently, key teachers at
our schools are entitled to a one-month training course organised at PLC
Sydney High School every year.
Besides, we invite foreign experts to
hold training courses at the school twice a year. In addition, the school is
actively looking for qualified foreign teachers whose professional
qualifications are recognised by international organisations like Cambridge.
Looking for international partners is not simple because it is not just any
overseas school we are looking to co-operate with.
When I first joined the education
system, I paid a visit to PLC Sydney High School, one of Australia's oldest
and most famous schools, which then became VAS Hanoi’s strategic partner.
After that, the school has also satisfied the strict comprehensive conditions
of two Cambridge councils, including the Cambridge Educational Assessment and
the Cambridge English Assessment. VAS Hanoi became the first school in
Vietnam recognised as a partner of Cambridge English Assessment in 2019,
recognised by reputable organisations. The name Cambridge says all about
their influence, reliability, and rigorous process.
After 15 years in Vietnamese education,
I hope the government would issue more policies to promote private players.
There remain difficulties in accessing subsidised bank credit, and the
government could provide exemption from land lease, which would support
companies in their early days of operation.
By Anh Huong - Vietnam Investment Review