Vietnam's higher education system

Document Type

Book chapter

Publication details

Hayden, M & Thiep, LQ 2010, 'Vietnam's higher education system', in G Harman, M Hayden & PT Nghi (eds), Reforming higher education in Vietnam: challenges and priorities, Springer, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp. 15-30. ISBN: 9789048136933


Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with recent annual growth rates in real GDP of over 7 percent. It has had remarkable success during the past two decades in reducing the incidence of poverty but it remains, however, a poor country by international standards. It relies heavily on intensive agriculture to support its population of 85 million. A policy of doi moi (economic renovation), introduced in 1986, has been largely responsible for Vietnam's recent economic success. Under this policy, widespread privatisation of public property was sanctioned and regulatory control on prices and foreign investment eased. The national economic reform agenda provides an important backdrop to changes that have taken place in the higher education system. The Soviet model of higher education upon which the system was founded in the late 1950s has largely been abandoned. This chapter presents an overview of the current state of the higher education system in Vietnam. It takes into account both the system's recent history and the state's plans for the future of the system. The chapter highlights the immense challenges involved in trying to develop an internationally competitive higher education system against the background of low per capita national income and a continuing legacy of centralised planning.