Tips on How to be Successful in Vietnam – A Quick Guide for HEIs

“Successful recruitment strategies in Vietnam require a lot of patience”

Hosting a thriving economy underpinned by population growth of 1% annually, in demographic terms, Vietnam is currently in a golden age. 

This ‘golden age’ features a young population eager to study overseas. Furthermore, unlike other regional countries, Vietnam is not expected to be overly affected by an ageing population for another two decades. Such conditions make Vietnam an engine of future growth and a worthy addition to an institution’s portfolio; but how can HEI’s make the most of the Vietnam market?

  1. Increase Your Market Visibility

Perhaps the most important aspect when it comes to recruitment in Vietnam is market visibility. Unless your brand is world famous, without a sustained effort to come to market you will struggle to make much ground in what is an increasingly competitive market. The most successful institutions in Vietnam are the institutions that recognise this and visit at least a 3/4 times per year.

If your institution is working on a tight budget, you’d be best off planning these visits around the same time as exhibitions so you can be on hand to assist with follow up of student leads. Another visit later in the cycle to help with the conversion of offer holders goes a long way, too.

  1. Attend Quality Exhibitions

Attending exhibitions is a great way to increase brand awareness and attract interested students. Vietnamese students still see great value in meeting with representatives from overseas universities, and the most outgoing reps will always find such events fruitful in their recruitment drives. Worth noting is that parents often accompany their children at such events, and reps should be mindful of this considering that the parents are influential in the decision-making process of overseas study.

  1. Show Off Your Scholarships

Vietnam is an extremely price sensitive market, with students often looking for big scholarships in order to have the means to afford overseas study. Budgets do vary, and whilst there is a large number of students who can afford full fees, even these students will look at scholarships for the prestige value rather than any financial need.

The best way to utilize scholarships to attract students is to have Vietnam specific scholarships. Often these can be applied at the time an offer is made, but for the larger ones, a separate application is usually needed. Reps won’t go far wrong with highlighting their scholarships when meeting students at fairs and during agent visits. Often they are the first thing students ask about, highlighting their importance in the decision-making process.

“Vietnamese students still see great value in meeting with representatives from overseas universities, and the most outgoing reps will always find such events fruitful”

  1. Localization, Localization, Localization

Universities would be well advised to publish flyers or booklets in Vietnamese to use at exhibitions. A concise booklet highlighting your institution’s USPs as well as most popular course choices for Vietnamese students would prove to be of great value. Showcasing student profiles of current or former Vietnamese students is another valuable asset universities can utilize. Having student profiles in both English and Vietnamese, and in print format as well as on video will help make your institution stand out.

  1. Manage Your Expectations

Successful recruitment strategies in Vietnam require a lot of patience. The country’s economic development and a growing population mean that whilst it can prove to be a fruitful market, a more sustained strategy is needed to succeed. If keeping to the above points continuously year on year, a 3-year time frame is realistic when looking for measurable results. Keeping momentum is fundamentally important in the Vietnam market, and if you withdraw presence for even half a year, it will be much harder to see meaningful long-term results.

David Prentice is currently the Overseas Study Manager of the UKEAS Group office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His interests lie in international student recruitment, TNE, and digital marketing for the education sector.