At the American Abroad Conference 2018 held in Ho Chi Minh City, Edwina Rowell, adjunct professor of Campbellsville University in the US, said that 325,229 US students studied abroad for academic credit in the 2016-17 academic year, representing 11.1 percent of all US college and university students, citing data from an Open Doors 2017 study.
Of these, 11 percent studied in Asia, including in Vietnam.
Open Doors 2017 is a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and for US students studying abroad for academic credit at their home institutions.
Vietnam is becoming a more popular destination for American students, according to Open Doors. In the 2016-2017 academic year, Vietnam welcomed 1,012 students from the US.
Megan Ames, international outreach and recruitment specialist at Institute of International Education, said the number had increased from 922 in the 2014-2015 academic year.
Universities should change their perceptions of studying abroad, and realise that every student expects study abroad to be an “essential part of a university education”, she said.
Many countries have incentives for US students. For instance, New Zealand provides merit-based and travel awards for US students.
According to the Kaya Responsible Travel and World Internships, Vietnam has great potential and interest from the US market.
Vietnam is a low-cost option, has good English-language levels in many organisations, and is perceived as an important business region and is safe and welcoming.
Rowell of Campbellsville University said that students study abroad to see the world, enjoy different education styles and new cultures, hone language skills, find career opportunities, and make lifelong friends.
US Consul General Mary Tarnowka said: “Through study abroad programmes, the people of Vietnam and the US can develop stronger and closer ties.”
Dr Hoang Gia Thu, dean of Finance Management and Tourism at Hanoi University, has organised a number of study tour programmes in Vietnam for universities from the US, the UK, Singapore and Germany.
He suggested that universities target specific groups of students to attract more people from the US.
They should also focus on practical learning experiences and outcomes, and link the experience with future careers, Thu said.
A community of alumni to share and discuss experiences should also be created, he added.
Dr Nguyen Thi Thanh Phuong, country director of Arizona State University’s representative office in Vietnam, said that university leaders should take advantage of their strong points to attract international students.
Nguyen Mo, director of Student Exchange Vietnam, said that universities in Vietnam should attend international education fairs.
They should also identify the majors they want to promote, such as those related to culture, entrepreneurship and agriculture, and include short courses as well, she added.
However, barriers at Vietnamese universities continue to exist, including limited faculty interest, no promotion criteria, and lack of Government support.
In addition, there is no website about study in Vietnam for foreign students, Mo said.
The American Abroad Conference 2018 was held by the US Consulate in HCM City in co-operation with Student Exchange Vietnam.