Governance of transnational higher education in Vietnam: Issues and ways forward

Ngoc Ninh NGUYEN, Chi Kin John LEE

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters


Like many of its South East Asian neighbours, Vietnam is embracing the mass inflows of transnational higher education (TNHE) and has now become a large importer of Western higher education. TNHE is considered by the Vietnamese Government as one of the key priorities to expand its higher education sector, offering more places and greater choices with hopefully better quality for Vietnamese youth. The first TNHE initiatives in Vietnam started towards the beginning of the 21st century. They were expected to increase opportunities for higher education as well as greater mobility of Vietnamese academics and students. And while they did so, they also encountered a number of problems, most notably including infringement of local education regulations, unlicensed service delivery, lower quality than expected at the expense of profit-making motivation, and benefits to Vietnamese learners were not well-protected (Lawrence, 2011; Nguyen, 2014; Tran, 2014). These consequences are largely due to inadequacies in governance of TNHE in whatever form it may take. The Government of Vietnam did set up policies and legal frameworks to regulate higher education provision by foreign partners evidenced by Decree No.18/2001/ND-CP on the establishment and operation of Vietnam-based foreign cultural and/or educational institutions (Nguyen and Shillabeer, 2013); Decree No.73/2012/ND-CP on partnerships and foreign investments in education; as well as most recently Decree No.86/2018/ND-CP dated 1/8/2018 in replacement of Decree No.73 to provide stricter regulations and tighten control over all TNHE operations (Cuong and Shah, 2019). Although regulations are in place, the larger governance issues lie in limited capacity of state management to foster compliance and that regulations are often late when violations have been apparent for quite some time. This chapter unveils a number of issues in governance practices in Vietnamese TNHE and recommends that Vietnam should invest in capacity building to strengthen state management and quality assurance, promote accountability and transparency of information, and align TNHE objectives with national higher education aspirations to make it work for the country. Copyright © 2021 selection and editorial matter, John Chi-Kin Lee and Noel Gough; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransnational education and curriculum studies: International perspectives
EditorsJohn Chi-Kin LEE, Noel GOUGH
Place of PublicationOxon
ISBN (Electronic)9781351061629
ISBN (Print)9781138480889
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Nguyen, N., & Lee, J. C.-K. (2021). Governance of transnational higher education in Vietnam: Issues and ways forward. In J. C.-K. Lee & N. Gough (Eds.), Transnational education and curriculum studies: International perspectives (pp. 203-215). Oxon: Routledge.


  • PG student publication


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