Study in Vietnam

Aspiring for a one of a kind experience of studying in the East? How about a study abroad program in exotic Vietnam; a fast-developing Southeast Asian country? Studying in Vietnam provides a unique experience to the overseas student. Learn here in detail about higher education in Vietnam, the visa requirements and the application procedure.

Why Vietnam

Vietnam the Land of the Dragon is coming up as a popular destination for studying abroad in Southeast Asia. It is a delightful country that is rich in culture and charm. The beautiful terrains and the lush green countryside make Vietnam a fascinating place to stay and study. In recent years, a wide range of study programs is being offered to the international student willing to study in this Asian country. There have been intensive reforms in the field of higher education in order to make Vietnam more of a knowledge-based economy. By studying here in Vietnam, it is not only a graduate or post-graduate degree that you earn, but also get to experience the rich and varied culture of this Southeast Asian nation. You can avail of the benefit of taking up the courses in English, thus not having to immediately bother about learning the local language. There are both public as well as private universities in Vietnam for the overseas students to study at. The education costs at the public universities are quite cheap; sometimes as cheap as 1,000 – 2,500 US dollars per year. The living costs too are very cheap, compared to the western countries and even Asian countries like Japan and Singapore.

Other than in the field of education, Vietnam is also coming up as a fast-growing economy. In fact, it is one of the fastest in the world. A number of industries and private companies are investing in the country, creating new jobs. Post education, one can have a wide range of jobs here. Some of the top multinational companies have made the country their home for business opportunities. Considering Vietnam's large population, which is the 13th largest in the world, the business opportunities are huge. As a result, the government of Vietnam is encouraging immigration of highly qualified professionals to the country. Even those undertaking postgraduate studies in Vietnam are favoured by the government as well as the industry for giving employment. As per the Vietnamese Ministry for Education and Training, more than 11,000 international students are studying in the country. They are from diverse countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, Laos, Cambodia and even students from Europe and North America. Vietnam is thus a country worth staying and studying for the international student.

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About Vietnam

Vietnam or the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia. It is part of the Indochina peninsula and is the easternmost. It has China, Laos and Cambodia as its immediate neighbours. Across the Gulf of Thailand is Thailand and to the southeast across the South China Sea lie Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia. The country's capital is in Hanoi, whereas the most populous city is Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam had a very troubled history. Even as late as 1954, the French were ruling Vietnam. It was then that the Vietnamese people could finally defeat the French forces. But peace did not return to Vietnam as the country got divided into two parts, South Vietnam and North Vietnam. The communists got hold of the North, whereas the regime in South was more influenced by capitalism. Due to differences in ideology, the country got involved in a major war between the two sides from 1955 to 1975. From 1965 to 1973 the United States sided with the South, but ultimately North Vietnam was victorious and it heralded the formation of a communist government in unified Vietnam. Yet, things didn't improve in Vietnam. Ultimately, in the year 1986, the country began its drive towards economic liberalization and political reforms. Ever since then Vietnam is on the path of rapid progress. Beginning with the year 2000, the country has achieved some of the fastest economic growth in the whole world.

For much of its history, Vietnam had kept itself isolated from the world. After getting integrated with the world economy, Vietnam took membership in a number of international organizations. By opening up to the world, Vietnam started developing vigorously. Vietnam is now a member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, ASEAN and Francophonie, an organization of French-speaking countries. Once, bitter enemies, the USA and Vietnam are now partners in business and economic activities.

On the political front, the entire power is in the hands of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The party has socialist principles as its defining goals. However, these days the country is more into following capitalist policies and encouraging free market principles to develop trade and economy. The legislature in Vietnam is a unicameral one. The President is the head of state whereas the Prime Minister is the head of the government who gets to exercise most of the power through the council of ministers.

Vietnam today is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As per one forecast by the famed Goldman Sachs, Vietnam will become the 21st largest economy in the world by 2025. Traditionally, Vietnam had been primarily an agricultural based economy with wet rice cultivation as its predominant farming activity. However, things changed from the year 1986 when market reforms were introduced and the economy was liberalized. From government control, the industries and agriculture went into private hands. As a result, Vietnam experienced a massive surge in its growth rate. Today manufacturing, high-tech industries and information technology form the major driver for the growth of the Vietnamese economy. Even though it started late, Vietnam is now the 8th largest oil producer in the whole of the Asia-pacific region. The living standard of the people has improved a lot and is expected to improve further in the coming years. Unemployment rates have fallen and the country is doing its best to keep a check on the cost of education and healthcare. Share of agriculture in GDP has fallen. Agriculture has been replaced by the services and the manufacturing sectors, each of which accounts for 40% of the GDP. Most of Vietnam's trade is with China, ASEAN countries, Japan, Australia, US, Europe and others.

Quick Facts

  1. Vietnam has two big cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City, located in southern Vietnam and also called as Saigon, is the larger one and very fast developing
  2. Hanoi, the capital, is located in the northern part. It is an ancient city with a long history of more than 1000 years.
  3. Some of the other worthy cities in Vietnam are DA Nang, Nga Trang, Da Lat and Can Tho.
  4. With a population of approximately 98 million, Vietnam is the 13th most populous nation in the world.
  5. Vietnam is very well known for its infamous war with the United States in the 1970s. The war proved very costly and destructive for both the countries. It resulted in mass protest against the war by American citizens.
  6. Andre Troung is a famous Vietnamese who invented the microcomputer.
  7. Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are the major religions in Vietnam.
  8. Based on the Japanese Shinkansen, Vietnam is working on a high-speed railway that will have trains travelling at a maximum speed of 360 kmph.
  9. Spratly Islands located in the South China Sea are the major cause of dispute between China and Vietnam.
  10. Vietnam is rapidly putting money into many centres of technology that have been established in recent times. These centres of technology are instrumental in providing the overseas students immense opportunities to get into research work in one's chosen field.
  11. Northern Vietnam has a sub-tropical climate, whereas southern Vietnam, a tropical one. In winter, it's near freezing in the North. In South, the temperature remains 25-30 degree centigrade throughout the year. Rains are abundant in Vietnam.
  12. Vietnam is a tourist's delight as it has lot many beautiful beaches and historical sites that enchant the visitors.
  13. Travelling is quite cheap in Vietnam. You may take xe oms (motorbike taxis) or ordinary cabs to travel across the cities and towns. Often, a bicycle is enough to get you around.
  14. Travelling to its neighbouring countries is also very cheap. Buses, vans and even flights are affordable.
  15. As per Global Peace Index 2016 report, Vietnam has been classified as a country with high level of peacefulness with respect to socio-political matters. It is ranked 59th as per the index.
  16. Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency of Vietnam and the notes have very large values. You have to be careful about the number of zeroes. One US dollar is equivalent to almost 23,000 VND.

Companies like Norden Communications are growing very fast in Vietnam.

Admission Process in Vietnam

Before applying for a study abroad program to a university in Vietnam, you need to first do an extensive research on the universities and the courses available there. You also need to check on the aspects required of a foreign student to study in Vietnam. For example, you will need to prove your English language proficiency while applying for an undergraduate or postgraduate course. You need to check on the cost of living and the tuition fees for the courses offered. Check for suitable accommodation in the cities or town where you will be located. Check for the course commencing date and the deadline for submitting the application form. Get to know the climate of Vietnam, as it is a very varied one depending on the region and it rains very often in the country. Once you have satisfied yourself with all the necessary requirements of studying in Vietnam, apply for the same. Since the application process and subsequent grant of student visa is a time-consuming process, you are advised to prepare early. Following is the step by step procedure for the application process.
  • Visit the website of your selected university and download the application form for undergraduate or postgraduate studies and the visa letter registration form.
  • Gather all the necessary and relevant documents like academic transcripts, certificates, mark sheets, photographs, passport, evidence of English language proficiency, etc. Also get certified copies of all your original documents.
  • Pay the necessary application fee into the bank account of the concerned university and obtain the receipt. The details of the bank account and the fees you will get from the website of the university itself.
  • Send by post the application forms, all certified copies of your original documents and the receipt of the application money paid by you to the admission department of the university. The university will contact you if any information or other documents are required.
  • Once the university is satisfied with your application, it will send you an offer acceptance form. Fill up the form with the necessary details and pay the fees as per the instructions. Ensure that the details are all correct.
  • Submit online a copy of the filled offer application form and the fees deposited to the university. On receipt, a confirmation email will be sent back to you.
  • On confirmation of your enrollment, a visa letter will be sent to you. Getting the letter ensures that your candidature has been accepted. Now take an appointment from the nearest consulate or Embassy of Vietnam for the visa interview.
  • Present yourself at the Embassy or consulate with all supporting documents and evidence regarding your qualifications, candidature and proficiency in the English language.
  • Once you are successful at the interview, you will be issued your student visa and you are set to go to Vietnam for higher study.

While applying, you need to consider the timing of the academic sessions in Vietnam. The academic year in most Vietnamese colleges begins in the month of September and end by early January. By January the exams are over and holidays are given to celebrate Tet, The Lunar New Year. The next semester begins by mid-February and concludes by June. In case you have not arranged for your accommodation in Vietnam, then the university itself will help you with arranging suitable accommodation and will also arrange for your pick up from the airport on your arrival in Vietnam.

Student Visa Application Process

For applying for a student visa for Vietnam, you will have to first apply to the institution you intend to study at. On acceptance of your candidature, the institute sends you a visa letter. It may take around a month or so for your visa letter to reach you. You will then have to submit it to the Vietnamese consulate or embassy in your country along with the visa application form, original passport, necessary documents and visa fee. You will also have to submit the letter of acceptance sent by your institute. The embassy will check for all your documents and if need be interviewing you. Your visa application will be then put for processing. It can then take around two weeks or even more for your student visa to be ready for collection. Greater details about the entire procedure for obtaining the visa can be had from the official website of the Ministry of Education and Training, Government of Vietnam for international education in Vietnam.

In fact, one can also obtain a student visa by first entering Vietnam on a tourist visa. Once you enroll for a course of study, you can then convert your tourist visa into a student visa by visiting the immigration office there. There is also a provision for extending or renewing your visa while you are studying in an institute in Vietnam for further studies. The institute will then act as sponsor for your visa application. You will have to submit the necessary supporting documents along with the visa extension or renewal form to the student center of your university or institute. Necessary fees are to be paid to the immigration office in Vietnam.

With a student visa, there are limited opportunities for an international student to get work in Vietnam. For hiring a foreigner, an employer should be able to prove to the government that local manpower is not available with the necessary skill-set desired for the particular role or job. Nevertheless, there are some jobs such as English language tutoring that you may seek if you have good skills in English. Once you have the higher qualifications, it becomes a lot easier for you to seek employment in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government, in general, allows highly qualified overseas professionals to work in Vietnam. You will need at least five years of work experience or higher professional qualifications to qualify for the work permit. Obtaining a master degree in Vietnam anyway qualifies you for employment in that country.


The lifestyle of the people here in Vietnam is a multicultural one. It ranges from the traditional ones to the most modern. If they celebrate the local cultural festivals like the Lunar New Year Holiday with much fanfare, then they are also adept at celebrating the western ones like Christmas, Valentines' Day and Easter. Years of colonization and influence first by the Chinese and then the French has left its imprint on the culture and lifestyle of the people here. A plethora of festivals is there for the Vietnamese to celebrate. The cuisine too is a rich and varied one. Each region has its own unique cuisine that is reflective of the culture of that region. However, there is one similarity that is reflective of the whole of Vietnam and it concerns with the popularity of steamed rice as part of the meal during lunch as well as dinner. The other thing unique about Vietnamese cuisine is the abundance of fresh vegetables in most dishes.

Traditional Vietnamese weddings are very popular with the masses here. The Vietnamese are also very family oriented people. They stay in large families with two or three generations living in the same house. However, 80% of the population still lay in villages. City life is highly modern with many skyscrapers coming up in the area and people, in general, enjoying a westernised lifestyle.

Cost of Living for Students

The living costs in Vietnam are quite low, compared to countries in the western world as well as in the Asia Pacific region like Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Inside the cities and towns, you can travel by motorbike taxis or even by cycling. Motorbike taxis are quite popular here and the fares are reasonable. Many of the distances can be even travelled on foot. For travelling across the country, say from the northern part of the country to the south, you have long distance buses that are reasonably fared. The food too is reasonably priced as Vietnam is an agriculturally rich nation, with abundant food crops being grown here. Expenditure on leisure is also quite less.

The fee structure of most of the courses is also relatively inexpensive. Public universities are quite cheap in Vietnam. They are as low as 1,000 to 2,500 US dollars a year for some of the courses. The tuition fees charged by the private universities are on the higher side, however. Some of the courses may range as high as 25,000 to 35,000 US dollars or even higher for the entire duration of the course. Compared to India, the private universities are perhaps a bit on the higher side, but Vietnam nevertheless provides you with a unique experience of studying in a fast developing economy, soaked in Southeast Asian culture.

Documents for University Admissions in Vietnam

While applying for an undergraduate or postgraduate program in Vietnam you will require a host of documents. Depending upon the programs, a few additional documents may be desired by the university you are applying for. Anyway, here is a general checklist of all the supporting documents you will need while applying for your study program in Vietnam.
  1. Certified copies of your degree or diploma qualification.
  2. Certified copies of your mark sheets.
  3. A copy of your English language proficiency test score. It could be an IELTS, TOEFL or PTE test score with a validity of two years.
  4. Required number of your recent colour passport size photographs.
  5. A true copy of your passport. The passport should have a validity of at least a year after your arrival in Vietnam.
  6. Receipt of the application fees paid by you.
  7. A copy of your health insurance obtained from your country of origin
  8. Filled in downloaded application form.

A few other documents that may be asked for the university are given as under.
  • Your biodata or curriculum vitae
  • Letters of recommendation from your school or college
  • Health insurance, if any, taken by you
  • A personal statement, explaining why you prefer to study in Vietnam
  • Residence proof in Vietnam, if any

In case any of the documents submitted by you are in a language other than English, then you will have to submit a notarized translation of the same. The translation has to be in English.

Universities and higher education in Vietnam

Vietnam has 65 officially recognized universities for higher education in the country. Many of them are reputed for the quality of education they impart. However, none of these universities figures in the QS World University Rankings. Some of the top universities in Vietnam that are popular with overseas students are as follows.
  1. Vietnam National University, Hanoi
  2. Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City
  3. Can Tho University
  4. Bach Khoa University
  5. Ton Duc Thang University
  6. Hanoi University of Science and Technology
  7. Ho Chi Minh University of Technology
  8. Hanoi Medical University
  9. Hue University

A wide variety of courses ranging from humanities, science, engineering, business, commerce, law and information technology are available to pursue at the undergraduate and masters level. Some of the universities offer doctoral programs in a host of subjects. Other than the public universities, a large number of private universities, senior colleges and even foreign universities are located in Vietnam for the benefit of domestic as well as overseas students. As on 2016, Vietnam has 62 international accredited programs that are run by its top universities. Bach Khoa university alone has 23 internally accredited programs.

In recent years, Vietnam is coming up as a place for extensive research. Already there is a focus on enhancing the innovation capability of the industrial sector by investing on research in a number of priority areas like mathematics, physics, climate change, natural disasters, applications of biotechnology in forestry, agriculture, fishery, healthcare, environmental protection and technological development.

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