We began our last full day in Saigon with a trip to the U.S. Consulate offices to talk about American- Vietnamese relations, student visas to study in the U.S., immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam, and other things related to the business of the Consulate. No cameras allowed at the Consulate, so no pictures to share for this.
After the meeting, I attended a lunch hosted by SEAMEO at a very nice restaurant. The food was excellent, the company was good, and the house that had been converted into a restaurant was very cool.
Some things I learned about Vietnam today include:
- 40% of the Vietnam GDP is generated in Ho Chi Minh City.
- The U.S. Consulate there has 40 U.S. staff members and over 200 Vietnamese staff members.
- U.S. is the largest export market for Vietnam, but not for education (Aussies).
- There are over 500,000 foreign students studying in the U.S.
- Those foreign students bring about $13 billion into the U.S. annually.
- Approximately 3,670 Vietnamese students are studying in the U.S.
- That number has increased about 16% annually for several years, with over 30% increase in the past year.
- 75% of the Vietnamese students in the U.S. received their visas at the Consulate in HCMC.
- They also administer the Fulbright program at the Consulate.
- The per capita annual income in Vietnam is $653.
- 1.7 million Vietnamese students took the college entrance exam (for Vietnam schools), but most are denied access to higher education.
- The granting of student visas is getting looser all the time thanks to improved relations between the two countries.
The recruitment fair on Wednesday afternoon was very active. We gave out almost all of the materials that we had with us and talked to many more seriously interested students and parents than at the fair in Hong Kong. It appears as though the higher ed market in Vietnam is ripe for U.S. educators to attract a good number of students.
This evening we had a farewell dinner with the whole group. Only a small part of the group is going on to Hanoi tomorrow with the largest part heading home in their various directions. It was a festive (rowdy) group as they were preparing to say their goodbyes and relaxing after a grueling trip throughout Asia. Some of us stayed a bit later than the others and generally made pests of ourselves while the staff waited for us to leave.