How can UK higher education institutions increase the popularity of their TNE offerings in Vietnam?

Transnational education (TNE) makes up an increasing part of the UK’s economy, which was worth around £25.2 billion in 2019. At the moment, Vietnam comprises a relatively small proportion of this sector, but the opportunities for expanding into Vietnam are vast.

In this article, we’ll explore both the opportunities and the challenges that face UK-Vietnam TNE providers in the coming years, and why UK universities should consider Vietnam a suitable candidate as a location to partner with international universities or even open branch campuses overseas.

Much of the insight in this article is from a 2020 study by Nam Phuong Phung, which is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to know more about the current relationship between the UK and Vietnam as it relates to transnational education.

Why should UK providers look towards Vietnam for international collaboration in 2022?

UK universities and higher education institutions keen to expand their reach in Asia should consider Vietnam a strong contender in 2022 and beyond. As the demand for higher education in Vietnam grows, the Vietnamese government has committed to improving both the quality and provision of higher education in Vietnam and has made it clear that cooperation with foreign institutions is key to achieving this.

There are lots of different TNE models that UK universities can consider as a route into collaborations with Vietnam institutions, including:

  • University branch campuses in Vietnam
  • Franchise programmes and partnership programmes
  • Distance learning offered to Vietnamese students
  • Joint university programmes offered in collaboration with Vietnamese HEIs

The range of TNE models available to higher education institutions (HEIs) in the UK means that the barrier to entry is relatively low no matter the resources of the host country. And in a highly globalised world, international collaborations are becoming a benchmark of quality; those universities that want to attract the most talented students must now offer a range of opportunities for international learning around the globe or risk missing out on revenue.

Financial models of transnational education differ greatly depending on the type of TNE being considered, but broadly speaking TNE offers mutually beneficial advantages to both home countries and host countries. In the case where UK HEIs offer study opportunities to Vietnamese students, whether through a branch campus or distance learning, this opens up a new stream of revenue for UK HEIs while enabling Vietnam to retain talented students and the money that those students spend on living expenses and accommodation.

What are the biggest challenges facing TNE in the UK and Vietnam?

There is some evidence that UK HEIs struggle to promote their TNE programmes abroad, despite boasting some of the most respected courses in the world. This may be due to cultural differences, particularly between the East and West, which make it harder for students from countries like Vietnam to succeed in TNE courses provided by UK universities.

An example of these cultural differences is in the contrasting expectations of students from Vietnam and the UK; while UK HEIs often take a student-centred approach to learning, which means that students are asked to actively participate during a class, Asian students are more used to – and often more comfortable with – simply sitting and listening to their teacher for the duration of a class.

There are also language barriers to overcome. While English has been adopted as the primary international communicative language, many students in Vietnam are not fluent in English. Some HEIs choose to address this challenge by offering programmes in Vietnamese, but this excludes a significant number of students for whom a major reason to take part in TNE is to improve their English.

If UK universities are to improve the popularity of their TNE offerings in Vietnam and Asia, they must take these challenges into account at every stage of TNE planning. From designing and structuring courses to hiring staff, it’s clear that UK educational institutions must make more effort to bridge the cultural gap between the UK and Vietnam to fully reap the rewards of a TNE partnership between our two countries.

Find out more

Acumen’s TNE Matchmaker pairs up educational institutions around the world looking for their perfect global partner in international learning. To find out more about UK-Vietnam opportunities for TNE, or to use our Matchmaker, get in touch with us today.

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