Internationalisation of higher education: China and Vietnam: from importers of education to partners in cooperation

Que Anh Dang

Student thesis: Master thesis


The last decade has seen internationalisation of companies pervasive in the business world as well as internationalisation of universities in the academic world. The noticeable changes that affect higher education in Asia are: 1) expansion has driven the growth of the private sector in higher education, including international programmes and foreign campuses, 2) vast number of students from Asia goes to study abroad, mostly in developed countries, 3) for various reasons there is a desire in many Asian countries to build “world class” universities to compete with the best academic institutions worldwide, 4) students and teachers are increasingly required to use English for study, research and teaching. Asian countries adopted different strategies to cope with these challenges. Internationalisation of higher education with the establishment of foreign university campus onshore is gaining importance. Chinese and Vietnamese higher education systems are two typical examples of this transformation, although the differences between the two countries are as great as the similarities. Cross-border university campus is a relatively new area of research, many characteristics and models of this form of education export are unexplored. Therefore, this thesis explores the internationalisation of higher education with particular focus on cross-border education in the form of foreign university campuses in China and Vietnam. The thesis addresses three main questions: 1. Why did China and Vietnam engage in internationalisation of higher education in the last decade? 2. On which parameters do the Vietnamese higher education internationalisation strategies differ from those of China given the two countries share many similarities? How can these differences be explained? 3. To what extent does the WTO/GATS Agreement influence cross-border higher education policies and practices in China and Vietnam? Through examining three case studies of foreign university campuses, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology campuses in Vietnam, the University of Nottingham Campus in Ningbo, China and the Sino- Danish Centre for Education and Research in Beijing, China, the thesis arrives at some findings as follows: Both countries have many reasons to engage in internationalisation of their higher education. Most obviously, it is the demand for national economic growth and competitiveness. Both countries need a more qualified and skilled workforce, and new knowledge in many fields. Higher education is seen as a way to achieve these objectives, especially through international cooperation and cross-border in various forms. • In addition, academic motivations and intellectual stimulation for scholarly exchanges and quality education are also an important reason and a strong driving force for internationalisation strategies of all countries involved, especially the host countries. • It is evident that cross-border education supports mutual understanding and capacity building at both individual and organisational levels. This capacity building, especially in the case of foreign campuses, is becoming a two-way process, which signifies the improvement of educational institutions and individuals in both host and home countries. In short, though at different levels, the two host countries, China and Vietnam, are becoming partners in educational cooperation than just importers of education. • The two higher education systems have different patterns of development, different agendas and different points of departure for internationalisation. China seems to have more to offer to their partners in terms of research capacity and resources, therefore China has more equal decision making power or even takes more control over the partnerships. • Vietnam has shown considerable courage in opening its doors to foreign providers in education services. Its resolve to internationalise its higher education and training is very strong but is clearly hampered by lack of human and financial resources, and long-term strategic plan. • Not only are there differences in the two countries, but also within China there different models of partnerships presented in the two cases. • Both China and Vietnam ratified commitments to the WTO/GATS agreement in educational sector and allowed all 4 modes of supply at higher education level. This integration will potentially lead to more structural changes in the legal frameworks for higher education systems in each country.

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages107