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### Revitalizing Vietnamese Tech Startups with International Graduates

Overseas graduates energise tech startups in Vietnam hinh anh 1Enrollees in the inaugural lecturer exchange program for Vietnam, sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and organized by the USAD Foreign Agricultural Service, took place from August 15 to December 5, 2023. (Photo: US Embassy in Vietnam)

Hanoi (VNA) – A significant number of individuals have been returning to Vietnam following their overseas studies, contributing to the growth of domestic electronics supply chains and various other sectors.

According to a report by Nikkei Asia, Vietnam has historically sent a higher number of students abroad compared to its neighboring countries. These students acquire valuable skills and establish networks that are beneficial upon their return.

The impact of over twenty years of study-abroad initiatives is becoming evident. Early cohorts have completed their studies, gained work experience – often internationally – and are now leveraging that expertise in Vietnam at a more advanced stage in their careers. Over this period, Vietnam has made efforts to enhance its appeal as a destination of choice. Notably, the proportion of high-tech goods in exports surged to 42% in 2020 from 13% in 2010, as reported by the Japan-based news magazine.

Statistics indicate that Vietnam leads Southeast Asian nations in the number of [international students], surpassing Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Moreover, Vietnam has consistently been among the top ten countries sending students to the US for over a decade.

The enrollment of Vietnamese students at US higher education institutions rose by 5.7% to reach 21,900 during the 2022 – 2023 academic year. Vietnam maintains its position as the fifth largest source of international students in the US. According to the US’s Open Doors Report 2023 by the Institute of International Education (IIE), Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, as well as Business/Administration courses, continue to be the most popular choices for Vietnamese students, accounting for 47.6% and 24.7% of enrollments, respectively.

The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF), established in the US through congressional efforts, has awarded numerous scholarships to Vietnamese students and researchers.

As per Nikkei Asia, an investor and Stanford University graduate highlighted the foundation as a prime example of successful investments, with alumni now playing significant roles in Vietnam’s economy.

Several VEF scholars have gone on to establish startups like Palexy, a machine-learning vendor, and Zalo, a platform more popular in Vietnam than Facebook. Additionally, many graduates from prestigious institutions such as Harvard and Cambridge have returned to Vietnam to lead various technology companies, including Tap Tap – a rewards platform, Uber Vietnam, and the logistics startup Abivin.

Despite these achievements, there are still considerable workforce and economic challenges to address.

In various aspects, performance has not matched the country’s potential. For instance, Apple suppliers have reported difficulties in finding a sufficient number of engineers. Vietnam has yet to produce a startup comparable to Indonesia’s Gojek or Singapore’s Shopee, which have successfully expanded their brands internationally, as noted by Nikkei Asia.