UK spots potential market in Vietnam

November 30, 2001

A record number of British universities, attracted by the increasing number of Vietnamese who study overseas, has taken part in the second annual Education UK Exhibition in Vietnam.

Over 30 universities and colleges were involved in the event, which was organised by the British Council and the Vietnamese government - twice the number that attended the inaugural fair last year.

Established players in Vietnam such as the universities of Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham, were forced to jockey alongside new entrants, including the London Institute and Queen Margaret University College. It was a sign, said one exhibitor, of the desperate measures being taken to secure overseas students as an additional revenue stream. "There are 30 of us in one room chasing no more than 400 students. It's doubtful many Vietnamese can even afford three years study in the UK, which is why we see this as a postgraduate market," he said.

According to figures from the British Council, the number of Vietnamese studying in the UK is growing by over 20 per cent year on year. But the market remains small - only 320 students were granted visas this year.

Overseas study remains the preserve of Vietnam's elite. The sons and daughters of senior government and party officials typically study abroad but such privilege is still beyond the means of Vietnam's growing middle class. Several exhibitors were therefore looking at ways to implement distance learning, joint ventures or franchises.

Duncan McCargo, senior lecturer in politics at Leeds, said: "We are looking at ways to deliver courses offshore through joint ventures or distance learning." But he admitted: "We have no firm idea of how many people in Vietnam can afford to attend them."

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