Implications of Vietnam’s Student Exodus

With increasing numbers of young people leaving Vietnam to seek an education overseas, we are forced to question the impact on Vietnam’s economy. Can Vietnam entice these students back to their homeland to contribute to it’s growing economy? Or is the talent drain irreversible? This is a major issue facing Vietnam today.

n the past 15 years, the number of Vietnamese students opting to study abroad has increased from over 98,500 in 2010-2011 to over 106,000 in 2011-2012. The majority of these study in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore and China, resulting in large amounts of money being outsourced to these economies.

The decision to study abroad is influenced by a combination of factors; namely the perceived higher quality and global reputation of education overseas, as well as capacity constraints in Vietnamese education institutions and the increase in incomes of Vietnamese families over the past few decades.

Many skilled and educated professionals stay abroad to start off their careers after finishing their education

The increase in Vietnamese students studying abroad has also contributed to the increased the amount of ‘Viet kieu’, or overseas Vietnamese. Many skilled and educated professionals stay abroad to start off their careers after finishing their education. This brain drain is a problem for Vietnam, as these educated students’ return to Vietnam would significantly benefit its economic development and contribute to Vietnam’s fast growing prominence in the world economy.

Hoping to employ locally, Vietnamese companies are increasingly searching for educated staff to take on. Students are noticing this increase in opportunities in Vietnam, which has gone hand in hand with the increase in foreign direct investment. As a result, numbers of students returning to Vietnam to work after studying abroad are increasing. Many students find they are likely to work in higher positions in Vietnam when compared to the United States or the United Kingdom. This is not just due to increasing economic opportunities in Vietnam, but also because of the effects of the economic recession and scarcity of jobs in countries like the United States and United Kingdom, as well as because of the increase in stringency of visa and legal requirements for overseas students to be permitted to remain and work post-study.

Many students find they are likely to work in higher positions in Vietnam when compared to the United States or the United Kingdom

The Vietnamese government can help encourage even larger numbers of students to return to Vietnam after studies by creating more opportunities, or make it more attractive for them to return by offering rewards. Vietnamese companies are also trying to reduce the salary gap between local and foreign employees, in order to encourage a reversal of the brain drain. This will help to encourage educated ‘Viet kieu’ all over the world to return to Vietnam.

by Margaux  Schreurs

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