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Education on radar of foreign investors

Released at: 08:42, 26/11/2018

Education on radar of foreign investors

Photo: Viet Tuan

Vietnam's education sector is increasingly attractive in the eyes of foreign investors and partners.

by Hai Van

International cooperation between local and international schools has been increasing in recent times, with many international schools selecting Vietnam as a destination for new investment. Different types of cooperation are gradually changing the face of Vietnam’s education sector, making the process of international education integration become more vibrant than ever. 

Rising investment 

In mid-September, a British University Vietnam (BUV) campus was officially opened at Ecopark in northern Hung Yen province, near Hanoi. The campus was built over the last three years with total investment of $70 million. Once fully completed it will be able to educate 7,000 students, with a figure of 2,000 in this first phase. BUV was established in 2009 and now has over 300 graduates working in Vietnam and many countries around the world.

Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha hopes that BUV will work closely with the business community and with British and international investors to understand local needs related to training and demand for human resources. “BUV should pay attention to coordinating with Vietnamese universities and schools to integrate into the training network, share experience, and jointly build an international training environment,” he said.

A number of education funds have already invested in Vietnam. Cognita acquired the International School of HCMC (ISHCMC) and Saigon Pearl Primary School, while the North Anglia Fund purchased British International School and TPG, a US investment fund, conducted an M&A with the Vietnam-Australia School (VAS). EQT, meanwhile, has invested in ILA, a large English language center chain, the IFC has invested in the Vietnam-USA Society (VUS) chain, and Mekong Capital invested in English Center YOLA. The huge capital inflows into international schools clearly exhibit the potential for international education in Vietnam.

The Riverdale Country School from New York recently cooperated with the Doan Thi Diem Secondary School to operate the new Delta Global School (DGS) program for students in Grades 6-12. Twenty-seven students at Doan Thi Diem received DGS scholarships in early October. The Riverdale Country School specializes in bilingual education for talented students wishing to study in the US and is among the top 10 high schools in the US and top 5 in New York.

Mr. Nguyen Tung, a member of DGS International School’s project board, said that Mr. David Sonnenberg, a representative of the billionaire Sonnenberg family, Chairman of the Douglas Group, Chairman of the Sunny Mountain Education Support Fund, and Founder of Riverdale, wishes to support and promote educational development in developing countries to help the next generation of students in these countries more quickly access modern and superior education around the world. 

Although he preferred not to disclose the specific investment in DGS, Mr. Tung said it is being built on the area of the Doan Thi Diem Secondary School and will be completed by 2019. The entire classroom was designed by architect Ming Thomsons, who has a great deal of experience in designing private schools in the US. The average class size is 67 sq m, with students in each class to number 20-25. All classroom equipment and instructional equipment are in accordance with Riverdale’s standards and provided by the Hunter Douglas Group.

One international institution long investing in Vietnam is RMIT, which has had a presence in the country for 16 years. “RMIT Vietnam operates under a not-for-profit model, with profits remaining in Vietnam and being reinvested back into the university in the form of scholarships, improvements to teaching facilities, and sharing teaching methodologies with local universities,” according to Professor Gael McDonald, President of RMIT Vietnam. Its education program has helped produce high-quality employees as well as future leaders of the country, and Professor McDonald emphasized that RMIT has cooperated with high schools to identify talent and has awarded scholarships. 

Expanding cooperation

Not only international education institutions are seeking investment opportunities in Vietnam, as local training and education institutions have actively cooperated with global schools. Due to the increasing demand for international training programs as well as access to global education, many high schools have teamed up with reputable schools globally to jointly develop advanced education models in Vietnam.

Ms. Do Huyen Chi, Deputy Principal of the Doan Thi Diem Secondary School, said that cooperation with international schools to implement training programs is a long-term orientation of the school. Prior to cooperating with Riverdale, Doan Thi Diem regularly implemented educational and cultural exchange programs with developed countries and territories such as the UK, Australia, the US, Singapore and Taiwan (China). Doan Thi Diem was established in 2005 under an inter-school model, including primary school, secondary school, and high school. After 13 years of development, it is considered one of the best-quality training models in Hanoi.

Mr. Nguyen Hoang Lam, Head of the International Division at Nguyen Sieu School, pointed out that the school now has a wide range of international cooperation and cooperative programs such as summer camps, short-term study abroad, and pre-university training courses with the University of Massey in New Zealand, in which students study with the university’s lecturers. 
Nguyen Sieu School has signed cooperation agreements with two leading universities in New Zealand - Massey and Canterbury. It is also working with a number of secondary schools in Denmark, Italy, and Japan, such as Nykobing, Skal, Liceo Scientifico G. Galilei Macleans, and Nagarakuen. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Chairman of the Board at the Nguyen Binh Khiem School, said it has also signed a cooperation agreement with BUV. Nguyen Binh Khiem students graduating with good results can access scholarships from BUV. The school also organizes exchange activities, visiting high schools in such countries as Israel, the US, and Australia over the past year, contributing to realizing the dream among its students of studying abroad.

In order to strengthen international integration in education and training, the Ministry of Education and Training has set an objective of continuing the effective implementation of the Prime Minister’s 2020 Plan for International Integration in Education and Training. The government has approved and implemented the “General Plan for International Integration to 2020 with a Vision to 2030”. Collaboration in scientific research, joint training, credit accreditation, program transfer, and equivalent prestigious degrees will be promoted.

Forty-six projects in the field of education with total investment capital of $51 million were licensed in the first nine months of 2018, according to data from the Foreign Investment Agency at the Ministry of Planning and Investment. Vietnam has attracted a total of 437 FDI projects in education with total registered capital of $4.3 billion.

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