The Quantitative Challenge to Vietnamese Higher Education

In 1986, Vietnam began to open and decentralize its’ economy. This policy shift is termed Doi Moi | Rejuvenation. For our purposes, the story of Vietnam’s educational advancement will begin here. Until Doi Moi private enterprise including educational ventures were largely prohibited.

Tertiary: a collective noun for both university (bachelors+) and college (associates) institutes.

Tertiary Institutes since Doi Moi

Since DM

  1987 1997 2009 2010 Total
Public tertiary 101 126 376 326 403
Private tertiary 0 15 81 77

Simply put, institutions have increased in number by roughly 400% and it is growing. By 2010, Tertiary became 80.9% Public and 19.1% Private.

Annual Enrollment since Doi Moi

  1987 2009 % Δ
Students 133,000 1,700,000 (est) 1,278 %

Due to Vietnam’s post-war population boom, benefits of globalized production, the arrival of the “Knowledge Economy” along with other optimistic factors, student enrollment increased three times faster than tertiary supply. Even barring the qualitative challenges, Vietnam’s quantitative challenge is large.

The Challenge of Quantity seems likely to persist, as Vietnam’s student per ten thousand citizens continues to increase.

Students per 10,000 populations

1997 2006 2009 2010 % Δ
80 166.5 195 200 (est) 124%

Demand will continue to rise as Vietnam’s student per ten thousand ratios catches up with middle-income nations. Vietnam’s ratio remains relatively low.

Students per 10,000 Population 2005


Vietnam Thailand Chile Japan France UK Australia USA Korea
166(est) 374 407 316 359 380 504 576 674

The simple solution would be for Vietnam to build supply to meet demand. However, there is an underlying dysfunction within and between Vietnamese institutions that constitute a persistent challenge to Vietnamese higher education. That challenge, a low incentive for quality, will be summarized the next post.

Simple Work Cited

Governance Reform in Higher Education of Vietnam by Dr. Do Huy Thinh & Dr. Ho Thanh My Phuong of the SEAMEO Regional Training Center, Vietnam Link Here

VIETNAMESE HIGHER EDUCATION: CRISIS AND RESPONSE by Thomas J. Vallely of Ash Institute at Harvard University Link Here

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