Mr Peter Ingham, International Program Advisor of British University Vietnam, spoke about the institution’s intentions in Vietnam.
What are your institution’s plans for offering tertiary education in Vietnam?
Staffordshire University is in the middle of England and we have around 15,000 students. Our university is very keen on partnerships with international universities and institutions.
We will help develop English medium higher education for Vietnamese students. The important thing to remember is that it will have the same standard as English students get in the UK. It will be delivered by English speaking lecturers here in Vietnam.
We understand that there are different qualifications in Vietnam that feed into entry. We look for top quality all the time. We agree on the differences and establish benchmarks that equate to our requirements.
Vietnamese students will get the same degree as students who study in the UK. We will start with three honours undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Accounting and Finance. That’s a three-year program and there will also be a degree in International Business Management. We will also start the first year of a Banking and Finance program with the University of London, with academic direction provided by the London School of Economics and Political Science.
We will start with these under-graduate degrees. Ultimately we will introduce professional education, i.e. part time education in the evenings and at weekends but, initially, we will focus on these undergraduate programs. In the next one or two years we plan to offer through British University Vietnam some eight honours degrees to Vietnamese students, at the same standard as those taken by students in the UK.
Where will your campuses be located?
The British University Vietnam (BUV), which was previously known as Apollo University Hanoi, will initially open a campus in Hanoi and we have already identified a modern and contemporary building in the heart of the city centre. In about three years time we will construct and open the main campus in the capital. In a year or so, we will also open a city centre campus in Ho Chi Minh City.
When will you officially begin enrolments?
We will fully re-launch our new website in the middle of September with comprehensive information about courses, scholarships, and how and when to apply etc. Information is available at www.britishuniversity.edu.vn. The courses are due to begin at the end of 2009. In terms of students, we expect some 100-200 in the first year and substantial growth in numbers in the second and third years.
What about tuition fees?
Our tuition fees will be competitively priced for high quality international higher education. For example, our students will receive the same degree as if they were in the UK. That requires a high standard of academics with international faculty plus good modern facilities in our campus.
Tuition fees will only be about half of what Vietnamese students would pay if they study for a degree on campus in the UK. With further savings from lower living costs in Vietnam, studying for a UK degree at the British University of Vietnam represents very good value for money.
What are your comparative advantages?
The British University Vietnam will be more than a branch campus of a single university. That is, it is not Staffordshire University opening its own campus in Vietnam. BUV has links with both Staffordshire and with the University of London, where the academic direction comes from the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is the concept of a “network university”, where we offer programs from more than one university with additional university partnerships to be introduced in the future.
Another comparative advantage we have is that by getting the degree here, our students won’t have to cope with the same level of cultural adjustment and, therefore, it will be easier for them to focus on their studies. We will bring international standard academics to them in Vietnam and students will learn directly in the Vietnamese context with a strong British input. It will also be easier for our graduates to apply their learning to the challenges they will encounter when working here in Vietnam. As part of our undergraduate programs we will arrange internships and work experience with leading Vietnamese and international companies based here in Vietnam.
One of the big concerns for students is the quality of teachers. How have you addressed this issue?
Some of our lecturers will come from the UK and some from other countries, including Vietnam. They will have a minimum of a Master’s from an international university. Our academics will also have to have lectured in international universities for up to five years.
Before we confirm their appointment, all of our lecturers will be agreed by Staffordshire University as being of an equivalent standard to those they employ in the UK. We set a high standard for ourselves and then benchmark these with Staffordshire.
Will you have exchange programs for students?
We have not yet gone to this stage at BUV. Obviously it is what we do at Staffordshire with other partners. The British University Vietnam is at the initial stage and like all things we will develop the new university step-by-step. Our expectation is that we will follow what we have done with other partners, where we have students coming from Shanghai and Beijing and other places who then transfer to complete the final year of their degree course on campus with us at Staffordshire. We hope to do this in the future with students from BUV as well.
While there is agreement that Vietnam faces a critical shortage of management skills, other international institutions of tertiary education do not manage to attract enough students. Is this a concern for you?
At Staffordshire we are very conscious of education developments around the world. There are many opportunities. One key issue is whether the government supports the setting up of private universities, as it does here in Vietnam., Also whether the courses are suitable for that country. Then, obviously, like any agreement, we get down to the details about how we help universities such as BUV to develop.
In Vietnam we have conducted substantial market research, which shows high demand in these areas. That’s why we focus on these particular subject areas. We will ultimately have four campuses, which will open as student demand develops and as the initial campuses become fully established, and in five years time we anticipate having students studying in all four campuses in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
What are your views on FDI in Vietnam’s education sector?
Obviously, FDI is a key driver for any country’s economy. We are pleased that FDI in education is increasing in Vietnam, as the country will benefit in terms of expanding and developing critical management and English language skills. These are essential for any country to compete successfully in an increasingly global economy and to encourage international companies to invest or to expand their existing operations.