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Vietnam allows resumption of IELTS examinations



The Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training granted permission to IDP Education to immediately resume IELTS testing on Thursday after one week of suspension.

The education ministry’s decision came into effect immediately and will last five years. 

IDP Education is one of two IELTS test organizers in Vietnam.

One week ago, the ministry postponed all IELTS examinations, one of the most popular English certifications in Vietnam, citing quality concerns.

Foreign language proficiency tests for South Korean, Japanese, and Chinese were also halted. 

The decision came as a surprise and caused worry among students and parents, with some planning to travel abroad in order to take the IELTS test. 

The Ministry of Education and Training said the reason for the pause was that test organizers had not completed their dossier as per the regulations.

Earlier this week, IDP Education submitted the required documents to the education ministry for review and processing. 

Upon receiving permission to resume IELTS examinations on Thursday, IDP Education immediately contacted students who had already enrolled to take the test at the organization’s centers in Vietnam to inform them of new arrangements.

The education ministry now allows IDP Education to organize the exams only in Hanoi, Da Nang City, and Ho Chi Minh City, but not in 41 other provinces and cities across the country as before.

Nguyen Thanh Sang, general director of IDP Education in Vietnam, expects the change to affect test takers for the foreseeable future.

“It will take more time to have enough space for all the test takers,” Sang told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday afternoon.

The British Council, the other IELTS test organizer in Vietnam, is still in the Ministry of Education and Training’s review process, according to Dan Tri news outlet.

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Overseas Vietnamese youth return for higher education



Some young Vietnamese people have opted to return to Vietnam for higher education after many years of studying overseas.

In early August, Sombatla Truc Deydeepya Lakshmi and her family members visited the Ho Chi Minh City University of Information Technology under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City to conduct university admission procedures.

Lakshmi’s father is Qatari and her mother is Vietnamese.

Lakshmi has lived in several nations such as Qatar and India since she was young.

However, when she started to look for a university, she decided to go back to Vietnam for a bachelor’s degree.

Experiencing Vietnamese culture

Truong Quoc Dung, an employee at the student support center of the university, said that Lakshmi will major in information technology and take a 3.5-year transnational education program jointly run by the university and Britain’s Birmingham City University.

Lakshmi is living with her mother in Vietnam to experience her motherland’s culture.

The prestigious transnational education program taught in English encourages Lakshmi’s family to allow her to study in Vietnam rather than other nations.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang will return to Vietnam for the 2023-24 academic year at a university nearly 10 years after she started studying in France.

Hang left her homeland for France when she was 12 years old.

She went to university in France last year, majoring in interior design. However, Hang decided to come back to Vietnam to continue her higher education. 

She will study at Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City for interior design. Vietnamese is mainly used during the university program.

Thuy Hang (R) talks to Associate Professor Dr. Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, principal at Hoa Sen University. Photo: Supplied

Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang (R) talks to Associate Professor Dr. Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, president of Hoa Sen University in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Supplied

Attractive international academic curricula

Over the past few years, many universities in Ho Chi Minh City have adopted enrollment methods based on international certificates, with the combination between English certifications such as IELTS and TOEFL, and school reports.

The University of Economics and Law under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City set a target of 10 percent of enrollees for this method last year.

Vietnam saw a wave of students returning for higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-July, 2020, the Ministry of Education and Training sent a dispatch to universities nationwide asking them to admit overseas Vietnamese and international students who failed to continue their higher education due to the pandemic.

Most of these students chose universities offering academic programs taught in English, or featuring majors that they studied overseas, said Associate Professor Dr. Tran Tien Khoa, president of the International University under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City.

Now, many students who tend to return to Vietnam for higher education prefer a transnational academic program to a Vietnamese course, as a degree granted by a foreign university is more attractive to them.

Potential barriers

Language is seen as a disadvantage for those who return to Vietnam for higher education, said Truong Quoc Dung.

Though all lessons are taught in English, many extracurricular activities, teamwork programs, and clubs are carried out in Vietnamese.

It will take these students time to get acquainted with the new environment.

For example, Lakshmi can understand Vietnamese, but she cannot speak the language.

Dung said that Lakshmi will be supported via student activities to assimilate into the new climate.

Meanwhile, Thuy Hang finds it hard to get used to the social environment in Vietnam.

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Vietnamese students strike gold at South Korean science competition



A team of five Vietnamese students from Hon Gai High School in the northern province of Quang Ninh brought home a gold medal and a special prize from the Korea International Youth Olympiad 2023, which took place in Seoul from Monday to Wednesday.

A representative of the Quang Ninh Province Department of Education and Training proudly announced on Wednesday that the high school in Ha Long City bagged a gold medal at the South Korea science competition.

The team included 11th graders Nguyen Phuong Anh, Vu Chi Doanh, Dang Thanh Binh, and Vu Trung Dung, and 12th grader Do Nhu Minh Khoi.

Their project focused on the application of nanotechnology to the production of Zinc oxide nanoparticles for carbon monoxide reduction in furnaces.

Apart from winning the gold medal, the project also earned a special prize granted by the director of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology.

The annual competition, held by the World Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs Association, is aimed at encouraging and honoring young people’s talent and creation in science.

This year’s iteration attracted 192 teams from 10 nations. 

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Vietnamese parents keen on sending children to boarding schools in US



Many Vietnamese parents are keen on letting their children join boarding schools in the U.S. so that they can enter universities there.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Jerry Vo attended many international schools in Ho Chi Minh City.

In 2020, the pandemic began to hit Asia, so schools shifted to online teaching.

As Vo was not interested in online learning, his parents allowed him to enroll in the Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts. 

She has since then studied and lived at the school. Classes in the morning and afternoon feature sports, as well as outdoor and club activities.

In the evening, she studies by herself in the dorm. She has lived with other students, including those from the U.S. and other countries.

“The biggest difference between boarding schools and others is students’ self-reliance. They proactively arrange their studying and life,” Vo said.

“It was hard on the first days. Moreover, communicating completely in English is not easy.”

N.M.T., a former student of the University of Colorado, who was a student at a boarding school in Texas since he was in grade nine, said boarding schools in the U.S. pay a lot of attention to students’ achievements.

As a result, the study schedule is hectic, not to mention sporting, artistic, and outdoor activities, as well as projects. 

“One of the primary purposes of these schools is to ensure that their students can enter good universities. Boarding schools in Vietnam often build a reputation by training students for famed universities,” T. said.

“Parents sending their children to U.S. boarding schools also expect them to go to good universities.”

Boarding schools are suitable for those who have no relatives in the U.S.. Parents in Vietnam can set their mind at rest when their children completely study and live on campus under the supervision of teachers.

However, the cost for attending boarding schools in the U.S. is high.

T. said it cost his family about US$65,000 per year.

The cost for an international student at boarding schools in the U.S. ranges between $60,000 and $90,000 per year, including tuition fees and subsistence expenses.

Asian students going to boarding schools tend to make friends with each other. Many are afraid of communicating with Western students as they find it hard to fall in line with them, besides obstacles in communication, said Quan Tran, a student of Concord Academy in Massachusetts.

Being aware of this issue, most boarding schools have formed organizations to connect international students with native peers.

“I think students should participate in programs, activities, and clubs, or simply talk with other friends,” said Quan.

Bill Hoang from Woodberry Forest School in Virginia said he is a member of the school’s group to support new international students. The group welcomes, instructs, and helps students integrate into their new environment.

The group also helps new students with studying, keeping their rooms clean, and even personal issues.

Hoang said Woodberry Forest School is located in a forest and students have to integrate with each other and find it hard to experience an urban life.

It is necessary to consider the location of boarding schools, Hoang noted, adding that ebullient students will prefer schools in downtown cities, while those keen on quiet places can choose schools far from cities.

Many Vietnamese parents also prefer boarding schools in areas with many Vietnamese people.

According to Vo, her family had earlier contacted an overseas education counseling center to seek a boarding school in the U.S., but she found that these centers often connect to only a few schools, limiting Vietnamese students’ choices.

She advised parents and students to learn about boarding schools from many sources of information and refer to many people before making decisions.

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