Over 40 senior leaders of higher education sector in Vietnam and the UK met on Friday 18 August in Ho Chi Minh City in the workshop ‘Toward the internationalisation of higher education in Vietnam by 2025.’. The workshop aims at getting contributing ideas from higher education policy makers and implementers to complete the draft of the Internationalisation of Higher Education Strategy (IHES) for Vietnam, and discussing the establishment of a Vietnam UK Higher Education Network to deliver collaborative programmes to support the implementation of the IHES.

Prof. Mushtak Talib Ali Al-Atabi, Provost, Heriot Watt University and Prof. John McBride, CEO, University of Southampton, both of whom were from the Malaysia campuses, joined the workshop and shared strategic lessons learnt from their own internationalisation of higher education strategy. They also advised that having a clear and concrete strategy for the internationalisation of higher education was crucial for any university as it would support the enhancement of quality in training, research, collaboration, and student and staff exchange. 

Prof. Pham Quang Minh, Rector, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University Hanoi said that he had learnt a lot from the presentations of the two UK professors, about the internationalisation of higher education strategy and the strategic vision of UK universities.

Dr Tran Mai Dong, Head of International Relations, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City, one of the core members of the working group for IHES also said that ‘UK professors shared very practical lessons from their universities, for example in terms of stakeholders and strategies, which helped the working group a lot in adjusting and complementing the draft IHES.’

Dr Dang Van Huan, the responsible official for the IHES, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Training also appreciated the key contributing ideas to the IHES from the workshop participants. It was suggested that the IHES include an analysis of challenges in internationalisation, from which policy and projects could be developed; this might include clear roles and responsibilities of the government and higher education institutions in internationalisation; the university – industry link in the operation of the university in general and in internationalisation in particular; quantitative index of internationalisation to ensure feasibility, etc.

All workshop participants were also supportive of the proposal to establish a Vietnam UK higher education network, which is hoped will support the enhancement of quality in training, research and international collaborations of Vietnamese universities, and which would directly support the implementation of the IHES in their own universities. A plan for the network is being developed to follow this up, and the network committee first meeting is hoped to start later this year.

The internationalisation of higher education supports the promotion of quality and an equitable and global learning experience that will enable the integration of Vietnamese higher education sector both regionally and globally and lead to brighter employability prospects for students. Realising its importance, the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training, in coordination with a number of Vietnamese universities, has been developing its first Internationalisation of Higher Education Strategy for 2017–2020, which focuses on the enhancement of university governance, training, research and skills programmes.

The UK commits to support the Higher Education Reform Agenda (HERA) in Vietnam. Being a strategic partner of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) in Vietnam, the British Council has contributed to the IHES by co-organising the workshop with MOET, and connecting UK and Vietnamese higher education experts for the discussion.