The British Council in Vietnam in November 2019 organised a study visit to the UK for a Vietnamese higher education delegation of 23 presidents, vice presidents, heads and deputy heads of international and research, and coordinators of the UK–Vietnam Higher Education Partnership project. The five-day visit opened up numerous positive partnership opportunities in higher education between the UK and Vietnam.

The delegation went to four cities, visiting five UK universities (Cambridge University, Imperial College London,University of East London, Salford University, University of Edinburgh) and met with more than 30 UK universities through networking events.

The UK–VN Higher Education network and partnership initiative is to support Vietnam Higher Education reform agenda by sharing UK experience and expertise to support capacity building for Vietnam Higher Education sector through internationalisation. ‘We are delighted to have been able to bring members of the UK–Vietnam Higher Education network to the UK this week. This network comes under the umbrella of the UK–Vietnam Higher Education partnership programme which is our internationalising higher education programme in Vietnam, but also involves countries in East Asia. It's been a real opportunity for the institutions to engage with universities in the UK,’ said Donna McGowan, Country Director, British Council in Vietnam.

One of the visit’s most important achievements was the UK–Vietnam Higher Education Network Strategic Leadership meeting with the nomination of the UK Co-Chair – University of Portsmouth – who will work alongside with the Vietnamese Chair Hanoi University of Science and Technology – in creating an innovative UK-Vietnam higher education network. 'I feel truly privileged to have been elected to be the UK Co-Chair of the UK–Vietnam Higher Education Network. I look forward to working with Assoc Prof Dr Hoang Minh Son, the Vietnamese Chair, and a team of committed and distinguished academics to support the internationalisation of higher education which is underpinned by world-class research and innovation.' said Prof Raymond Lee, Associate Dean (Global Engagement), Professor of Biomechanics, Faculty of Technology, University of Portsmouth. 

The visits and meetings focused on understanding UK best practices and models in Industrial strategy, international research and innovation strategy, building sustainable partnerships, autonomy and university council and quality assurance. ‘During these visits to numerous UK universities, I think every university has excellent models that we can learn from,’ said Prof Tran Thanh Hai, President of Hanoi University of Mining and Geology.

‘I think it will be good for the University of Cambridge to work with colleagues in Vietnam, particularly in sharing knowledge and social innovation practice. It would be good to also work on research projects we can both benefit from, so we can learn from the fascinating context in Vietnam, and hopefully publishing in top journals on the globe,’ said Dr Neil Stott, Director, Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation.

Other key topics of the visit were grand challenges under industrial strategy including AI and data, ageing society, clean growth and future mobility. Besides, delegates also presented and discussed some other emerging areas, such as social innovation and knowledge transfer commercialisation, enterprise and entrepreneurial ecosystem, innovative approaches to a PhD training programme, industry linkages, curriculum development for the 21st century, research enhancement, student exchange and internship.

‘We are going to learn how to implement these models, such as encouraging industry cooperation into universities to build an academic and research environment that enables collaboration, development and innovation between students, scientists and industry,’ said Assoc Prof Hoang Minh Son, President, Hanoi University of Science and Technology.

Vietnamese universities are following up in the areas of building training programme, curriculum development, sandwich/apprenticeship programme, applying UK models in the Vietnamese context such as encouraging industry corporation into universities to build an academic and research environment that enables collaboration, development and innovation between students, scientists and industry.

‘I found many interesting programmes, for example, the Sandwich Programme where students study for three years, with one year working in the industry, or the Master’s programme with one-year training and one year in industry, or training programmes for working people, all of which are very relevant to Vietnam. These programmes, I think, have the potential for growth in Vietnam,’ said Dr Dinh Van Thanh, Vice President, East Asia Technology University.

Closing the study visit, Ms Donna McGowan said: ‘Education and higher education is a really important area for the British Council's work. It's central to the bilateral relationship between Vietnam and the UK, and so wider UK institutions in higher education can continue to add value as Vietnam moves towards a knowledge economy. The British Council is thrilled to be able to help broker these relationships and facilitate these partnerships between universities in Vietnam and the UK. And all of this is about partnerships, about building lasting relationships that bring benefits to both countries. As long as the British Council can continue to add value to that then that's what we will do.’

Watch the recap video of the study visit here