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Studying in Vietnam

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As an international student preparing to study in Vietnam, you likely have many questions about what to expect. Education in Vietnam differs in many ways from Western systems. Gaining insight into the Vietnamese approach to learning and key cultural differences will help you navigate this new environment successfully. With a rapidly developing higher education system, Vietnam attracts students from around the world to prestigious universities in exciting cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. However, the learning environment, teaching styles, and expectations of students can come as a surprise to foreigners. This guide provides an overview of the Vietnamese education system and culture of learning along with tips to help you adapt to life as a student in Vietnam. With an open mind and spirit of adventure, you will find studying in Vietnam a rewarding experience.

Why Study in Vietnam?

Vietnam offers an exciting opportunity for foreign students to experience a vibrant culture while pursuing higher education. Here are a few reasons why studying in Vietnam may be right for you:

Affordable Cost of Living. Vietnam has a low cost of living compared to most countries, especially compared to Western nations. As a student, your biggest expenses will be housing and food, which are very affordable. Tuition and fees at Vietnamese universities are also relatively low.

Beautiful Scenery and Delicious Food. Vietnam is a gorgeous country, from the limestone islands of Halong Bay to the terraced rice fields of Sapa. Vietnamese cuisine is also world-renowned, offering a variety of fresh and flavorful dishes. As a student, you'll have opportunities to travel and experience all that Vietnam has to offer.

Growing Economy and Job Prospects. Vietnam has a fast-growing market economy, with many multinational companies establishing a presence. Studying in Vietnam can open you up to valuable career and networking opportunities after graduation. Proficiency in Vietnamese can also be an asset for jobs in business, translation, and education.

Cultural Immersion. By studying in Vietnam, you'll immerse yourself in the local culture. You can learn the Vietnamese language, interact with Vietnamese students and professors, participate in cultural events and holidays, and gain insight into Vietnamese traditions and ways of life. Such cultural immersion and exchange are enriching both personally and professionally.

Vietnam provides an authentic and affordable educational experience for international students looking to expand their horizons. While studying in a foreign country certainly comes with challenges, the rewards of cultural immersion, natural beauty, and career opportunities make Vietnam a promising destination for higher education. The friendships, memories, and personal growth that come from studying abroad can last a lifetime.

Popular Universities and Programs for Foreign Students

As a foreign student looking to study in Vietnam, you have several excellent university options to consider. Two of the top schools are Vietnam National University (VNU) in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (HCMUT) in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam National University

VNU offers programs for foreign students at its member universities like the University of Languages and International Studies. Popular areas of study include Vietnamese language and culture, as well as international business and economics. VNU has over 50,000 students across its campuses and is regarded as one of the top universities in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology

HCMUT is a leading technical university in Vietnam with over 36,000 students. It offers programs in engineering, technology, and sciences that are taught in English. Subjects of study include computer science, biotechnology, mechanical engineering, and information technology. HCMUT collaborates with many foreign universities and has a large number of international students and faculty.

Educational Opportunities for All Ages

In addition to these universities, other schools in major cities like Da Nang, Nha Trang or Haiphong also offer programs for foreign students, especially in Vietnamese language, culture, and tourism management. In general, studying in Vietnam provides an affordable opportunity to experience an exciting developing country with a rich culture and history. With some preparation, you can have a rewarding experience pursuing your education in Vietnam.

In addition to university studies, Vietnam offers a range of educational opportunities for foreigners of all ages:

  • Language Programs: For those looking to learn Vietnamese, there are many quality language programs available, from short immersion courses to multi-year training at accredited institutions. Programs are available for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

  • International Schools: Vietnam has over 30 international schools that provide world-class education based on curriculums like the International Baccalaureate and British system. With English instruction and high academic standards, these schools cater to expat families and students seeking an international-level education.

  • Preschools and Childcare: Major cities have preschools and childcare centers that meet international standards. They provide excellent early childhood education and preparation for primary school. Many offer bilingual or English instruction. This makes Vietnam an ideal destination for expat families with young children.

The wide range of language, K-12, and preschool options makes Vietnam an accommodating destination for entire families or students of all ages seeking education abroad. Whether pursuing higher education as a young adult or relocating with school-aged children, Vietnam has the educational institutions and programs to meet your needs.

Cost of Studying and Living in Vietnam

The cost of higher education in Vietnam is generally very affordable for foreigners compared to other countries. Tuition fees at public universities average under $2,000 USD per year for undergraduate programs and $3,000 to $5,000 USD for postgraduate degrees. Private university fees are 2 to 3 times higher but still inexpensive compared to the West.

Living expenses in Vietnam are also low, around $500 to $1,000 USD per month. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a city center averages $300 to $500 USD. Meals at local restaurants are just a few dollars. Entertainment and transportation are equally affordable. Many foreign students are able to fully fund their studies and living costs in Vietnam. Some even work part-time to gain valuable work experience, though income from teaching English or freelancing may only supplement a modest budget.

Scholarships, grants, and student loan options for foreign students in Vietnam are limited. Some Vietnamese universities offer scholarships for high-achieving students, especially at the postgraduate level. The Vietnamese government also provides a number of scholarships through intergovernmental exchange programs, such as the Vietnam International Education Development (VIED) program. Students should check with their target schools and governments for opportunities. Private student loans from banks are typically not available for foreign students in Vietnam.

When budgeting for studies in Vietnam, students should also factor in additional costs like:

  • Application and administrative fees: Around $50 to $200 USD per school.

  • Health insurance: Mandatory for student visas, around $200 to $500 USD per year.

  • Accommodation deposits: Usually 1 to 3 months' rent in advance.

  • Travel expenses: Flights to/from Vietnam and travel within the country.

  • Course materials: While tuition is affordable, books and supplies may add $200 to $500 USD per year.

  • Emergencies: It's a good idea to budget an extra $500 to $1,000 USD for unforeseen costs.

With low costs of living, affordable tuition, and the option to work part-time, Vietnam can be an attractive and budget-friendly study destination for foreign students seeking an international education experience.


Ho Chi Minh city university of technology

Learning the Vietnamese Language

As a foreign student in Vietnam, learning the local language is essential to thrive in your studies and daily life. Vietnamese, known as Tiếng Việt, is the official language of Vietnam. It is a tonal language, so pronunciation and intonation are very important. The language uses the Latin alphabet with additional diacritics to indicate tones.

The Importance of Learning Vietnamese

Being able to communicate in Vietnamese will help you in countless ways. You will be able to socialize more easily, ask questions in class, read signs, and navigate daily tasks like shopping or banking with greater independence. Speaking the language is also a sign of respect for the local culture. While many young Vietnamese speak English, especially in larger cities, do not expect everyone to accommodate your lack of Vietnamese language skills.

Resources for Learning

There are many resources to help you learn Vietnamese before and during your studies in Vietnam. You can find textbooks, audio lessons, tutoring services, language exchange partners, and immersion programs. Some recommended resources include:

  • Duolingo and Memrise: Free apps for learning Vietnamese through short lessons and gamification. Great for building vocabulary and basic conversational skills.

  • Pimsleur: Structured audio lessons to help you learn pronunciation and essential phrases.

  • Italki: Connect with native Vietnamese tutors for online lessons. Tutors can customize lessons based on your needs and level.

  • Language exchange: Find a native Vietnamese speaker learning English. Exchange lessons teaching each other your native languages.

  • Immersion programs: Some schools offer short-term immersion programs where you live with a Vietnamese host family. Total immersion is the best way to become fluent.

  • Flashcards: Make your own flashcards or use digital flashcard apps like Anki, Memrise, or Quizlet to actively practice new vocabulary words and phrases.

With hard work and persistence, you can achieve proficiency in Vietnamese. Do not get discouraged if you struggle at first. Focus on vocabulary building, pronunciation, and practical phrases to start. Then, immerse yourself as much as possible - read, listen to audio, watch TV shows, make Vietnamese friends, travel locally. Becoming fluent in Vietnamese will open you up to new cultural experiences and opportunities during your studies abroad.


Vin Uni is one of the rare universities with a modern facility

Campus Life and Culture

As a foreign student in Vietnam, you will experience a very different campus culture and lifestyle. Some things to expect:


Most universities in Vietnam do not have dormitories or on-campus housing for students. You will need to find your own accommodation, such as an apartment, flat or homestay. Rent near campuses is often affordable. Make sure your lodging meets your basic needs for studying and living comfortably.

Class Size and Teaching Style

Class sizes in Vietnam are usually large, sometimes with 50-100 students or more in a lecture hall. Teaching styles tend to be traditional and teacher-centered. Professors mainly lecture, while students listen and take notes. Participation and critical thinking are not strongly emphasized. You may need to adapt to this style of passive learning.

Campus Facilities

University campuses in Vietnam typically have basic facilities like classrooms, a library, computer labs and a cafeteria. Recreational facilities are limited. There are rarely gyms, pools or sports fields. Student lounges and extracurricular activities are also uncommon. Course materials are not always up to date. Be prepared for minimal resources and few leisure options on campus.

Language Barriers

While many university courses in Vietnam are taught in English, the main language on campus and in daily life is Vietnamese. This can present challenges in navigating the campus, understanding public notices and announcements, as well as interacting with local students and staff. Consider learning some basic Vietnamese to help overcome these language barriers.

Safety and Health

Exercise caution to avoid theft or petty crimes on campus. Be aware of your belongings, especially electronic devices. Motorbike traffic and pollution are major safety concerns as well. Always wear a helmet if riding a motorbike. Get necessary vaccinations before arriving and be vigilant about general health and hygiene. Medical care meets basic standards but may differ from what you are accustomed to.

By knowing what to expect in terms of accommodations, class styles, campus facilities, language issues, and health/safety factors, you can adequately prepare for your studies and life as an international student at a university in Vietnam. With an open and flexible mindset, you can adapt well to the campus culture and make the most of your experience abroad.

Staying Safe and Healthy in Vietnam

Staying healthy and safe during your time studying in Vietnam should be a top priority. Some key things to keep in mind:


Before traveling to Vietnam, make sure you are up to date on all routine vaccinations including:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine

  • Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine

  • Polio vaccine

  • Hepatitis A and B vaccines

You should also consider vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and typhoid, depending on your itinerary. Discuss your travel plans with your doctor at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to determine what vaccinations you may need.

Food and Water Safety

Be very careful with food and water in Vietnam to avoid infections like hepatitis A, typhoid, and diarrhea. Some tips:

  • Only drink bottled or boiled water. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.

  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables that you have peeled yourself.

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.

  • Choose busy restaurants with a high volume to ensure freshness. Street food can be risky.

  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid getting sick from contaminated surfaces. Carry hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Mosquitoes in Vietnam may carry diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Zika, and Japanese encephalitis. Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellant containing DEET, especially at dusk and dawn. Reapply as directed.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants or apply repellent to exposed skin.

  • Stay in well-screened or air-conditioned areas when possible.

  • Consider taking anti-malarial medication before, during, and after travel to some rural areas. Consult your doctor.

By following these recommendations for vaccinations, food and water safety, and mosquito precautions, you will greatly reduce your risk of illness during your study program in Vietnam. Staying safe and healthy will help ensure you have an enjoyable experience focusing on your education.

Career opportunities in Vietnam

As a foreign student in Vietnam, you will have opportunities for internships and jobs that provide valuable work experience. Vietnam’s economy has been growing steadily, and many multinational companies have a presence there, especially in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.


Internships are an excellent way to gain experience in your field of study and build your resume. Many universities have partnerships with local companies that provide internships for foreign students. You can also apply directly to companies for internship positions. Common areas of internships for foreigners include business, education, tourism, and healthcare. Interning at a local company is also a great way to improve your Vietnamese language skills and gain cultural experience.

Teaching English

For native English speakers, teaching English is a popular job option in Vietnam. There is high demand for English teachers at language centers, international schools, and private tutoring. Typically, a bachelor’s degree and TEFL/TESOL certification are required. Salaries for English teaching positions in Vietnam are fairly decent, ranging from $1000 to $2500 USD per month. Some teachers also receive benefits like paid holidays, medical insurance, and flight reimbursements.

Other Job Opportunities

Vietnam’s major cities offer job opportunities for foreigners in various fields:

  • Business: Accounting, consulting, HR, marketing, etc. Many multinational companies hire foreigners for mid-level and upper-level positions. Salaries are often higher than local pay.

  • Hospitality and Tourism: Hotels, restaurants, and tour companies frequently recruit foreign staff. Language abilities and cultural experience are assets.

  • Healthcare: Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are in high demand. Most positions require licensing and certification in Vietnam. Salaries can be quite high.

  • Startups: Vietnam has a thriving startup scene, especially in tech and e-commerce. Some startups hire foreigners for skills and experience. Compensation may include equity in the company.

  • Freelancing: Many foreigners work remotely as freelancers in a variety of fields like writing, online teaching, graphic design, and software engineering. Rates depend on experience and skills.

In summary, Vietnam offers good prospects for meaningful work experience and career opportunities for foreign students and professionals. With an open mind, the right skills, and a spirit of adventure, you can build a successful career path in Vietnam.