Like other countries in the world, undergraduate education is voluntary in Vietnam, which means that students can choose to either enter the labor force or continue studying after graduating from high schools. However, continuing to study university, college and vocational schools is preferred by many students to increase their opportunities to obtain better jobs and develop their careers.
Students after graduating from high schools can attend National entrance examinations to compete for a place at public undergraduate schools. This examination is organized by phases annually in July in most of public university in Vietnam and students with higher score than requirement of their selected schools is confirmed a position at these schools. The score at this examination is used to qualify students in all public university, college, vocational schools and most of domestic private schools (Exclude international schools).
Each phase in the National entrance examination for undergraduate corresponds with one fixed group of three subjects. These groups are categorized by Ministry of Education and chosen by students based on the requirement of their selected schools. There are four majors groups: Group A (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry), Group B (Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry), Group C (Literature, History, Geography) and Group D (Literature, Foreign Language, Mathematics). Also, there are other additional groups such as H, M, N, P… required by some specific schools in Arts, Design, Military or Education.
Types of school
Based on functions, Vietnamese undergraduate schools can be divided into three main kinds. The first type is vocational schools at which students are taught knowledge and skills in numerous jobs like electricity, cooking, carpentry or repairing. Often, only a small number of students at these schools are interested in physical jobs, and the rest are enabled to enter college or university after finishing the year at these schools.
The second kind of school in undergraduate system in Vietnam is college. Unlike liberal arts college in the US or specialized college like in Canada, these schools are for students who are not qualified to enter university. Programs at college are predominantly similar to university with duration from 3 to 4 years, but quality of teaching is a little lower.
The last and also most preferred kind of student is university. These schools educate students in various areas from economy, technology to arts or design. Graduating from university ensures higher chances to obtain good jobs with decent salary.
Especially, university in Vietnam can also be classified into three subcategories:
- Public university: schools are founded and operated by public fund. They are most popular choice because of their affordable fee (about $100-200 annual tuition fee) and high quality of lecturers. However, there are also various issues in some public university, especially rigid studying programs or obsolescent learning materials.
- Domestic private university: these schools are created and run by private firms or individuals like a business. They might not as high in quality as public university with higher fee (about $500 in tuition per annum), but they require lower score from National entrance examination to allow more students have chances to study university. Degrees issued by private universities are often ranked lower than those issued by public ones.
- International university: schools are established and operated under international standard. They are mostly branches of overseas universities such as Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and British University with identical quality of studying. However, fee at these school are much more expensive than public and domestic private university, but that is worth their standard.