Two decades ago, when the United States and Vietnam normalized relations, we shared a vision that our countries would one day cooperate on a broad range of issues, such as the environment, the economy, and education.
That shared vision has become a reality, and is evident in the interactions between our people today. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 60,000 American visitors to Vietnam -- today, there are nearly half a million. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 800 Vietnamese students studying in the United States and today, there are more than 17,000. As Secretary Kerry noted in his remarks in Vietnam last week, “These aren’t just statistics. They’re a measure of one of the most remarkable transformations in the history of world affairs.”
While in Ho Chi Minh City in December 2013, Secretary Kerry underscored the importance of offering incentives to Vietnamese youth to innovate and pursue new ideas. One way the United States is doing that is by supporting students and scholars and fostering educational partnerships.
Most notably, we are moving forward with one of our most innovative and potentially influential initiatives in Vietnam -- the founding of Fulbright University in Ho Chi Minh City. This effort to develop a university will expand the important work of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program (FETP), which has educated more than 1,200 Vietnamese mid-career professionals in the public and non-governmental sectors since 1995.
The U.S. government has been a strong supporter of FETP, helping develop it into a center of academic independence and policy expertise. Fulbright University of Vietnam will embolden the legacy of that program. Once completed, it will be the only private, not-for-profit university in Vietnam. The new university will model core principles, including academic freedom, meritocracy, transparency, equal access, and an awareness of what the global marketplace demands.
Fulbright University Vietnam has the potential to bring world-class university standards to Vietnam. The effort to transform FETP into a full-fledged university received a major boost with the recent granting of an official license from the Government of Vietnam, which will allow construction to begin.
Vietnam is one of the youngest countries in the world, with 23 million people -- a quarter of the country -- below the age of 15. As Secretary Kerry noted, a high performing system of education is essential to a strong economy. Our commitment to education in Vietnam is already very strong, and this University will bolster that investment in the future or this relationship and serve as an important tool for empowering Vietnamese youth. We look forward to officially breaking ground on the university later this year.
For more information:
- Read Secretary Kerry's Remarks at Fulbright University Youth Event.
- Read Secretary Kerry's Remarks on the Future of U.S.-Vietnam relations.
- Learn more about Secretary Kerry's trip to Vietnam, August 6-8, 2015.
- Find out how Harvard University is involved with the Fulbright University of Vietnam.
- Learn more about the Fulbright Program.