Market Report: Vietnam

One of BMI's favourite recruitment markets due to its consistent, steady growth and strong economic forecasts.

Market introduction

Vietnam has been one of the best countries for international education recruiters for several years running, making it one of our favourite emerging markets. All signs continue to point up: demand for education abroad, outbound students, incomes, economic forecasts and gradual reforms to the country’s own education system.

BMI partnered with international education marketing experts Jackfruit Marketing to produce this robust report covering a wide range of statistics and trends.

Read on to learn more about this fantastic education market, and contact us for help or advice when recruiting in Vietnam.


The current population as of April 2019 is 97,200,930 and the median age is 30.9 years old. These numbers are expected to grow to 106,283,600 by 2030 (median age: 36.9) and 114,629,852 by 2050 (median age: 42).

As the rise in median age indicates, Vietnam will need to plan for an ageing population in the future. Indeed, the youth community (ages 0-14) was almost 40% of the total population back in 1989, but it has been declining ever since then and as of 2018, sits at a mere 23% of the population. This age group will drop to 19,148,700 by 2025 but is projected to rebound to nearly 22 million by 2030.

As of 2016, the 15-24 year old population group made up approximately 17% of the total population. Meanwhile, as of October 2017, about 55% of the population was below the age of 34.

The Trends and Challenges section of our report goes into further details regarding the hurdles Vietnam will face due to an ageing society in the future.


Urbanisation trends – Fast facts

  • 35.8 % of the population lives in cities (34.86 million people in 2019).
  • Urbanisation is growing at an annual rate of 2.59% in Vietnam, as of 2017.


Youth population in Vietnam

The Year of the Dragon

In 2018, 11 localities reported an ‘abnormal’ increase of student class sizes in primary schools owing to a boom in the number of children born in 2012, the Year of Dragon. It was believed by Vietnamese people to be one of the best years to have children, as they will be destined to have a prosperous life in the future.

Tip for long term strategic planning!

Students born in 2012 will start shopping for international education from the years 2025-2030, which coincides nicely with the forecasted rising number of middle class families, as outlined in the Economic Strength section of this report.


The country is divided administratively into more than 64 provinces (tinh), of which Hanoi, Haiphong, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho are municipalities (thanh pho).

These are further subdivided into several dozen urban districts (quan) and hundreds of rural districts (huyen).


  • The capital and cultural hub of the North
  • Also served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902 until 1954, and has retained the architecture of that era
  • Nearby port of Haiphong was developed by the French in the late 19th century as a trade and banking centre


  • Home to many World Heritage sites and rich in history
  • A political and religious centre in the early 19th century

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

  • The largest city with 13 million people
  • The adjoining city of Cholon has long been a major centre for ethnic Chinese

Important dates

Key Historical Dates

July 1976

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam was established

July 1995

Vietnam was admitted to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)


Foreign and joint venture banks were allowed to offer a full array of services

January 2007

Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO)

December 2015

Formal establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community

National Holidays 2021

1 January

New Year’s Day

11-12 February

Traditional New Year and the most important holiday - The lunar new year celebration, known as Tet, is a time of feasting, visiting and exchanging gifts

21 April

Hung Kings’ Commemorative Day

30 April

National Reunification Day

3 May

Labour Day

2 September

Vietnam National Day

Acronyms you need to know

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

  • ASEAN is a group of ten countries: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • More than 650 million people live in these nations.

ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF)

  • A common reference framework that enables comparisons of education qualifications across participating ASEAN Member States (AMS).

ASEAN Credit Transfer System (ACTS)

  • Designed to create common mechanisms to facilitate the recognition of qualifications and increase student and academic mobility in the ASEAN region.

Asian International Mobility for Students (AIMS) programme

  • Vietnam joined the AIMS programme in 2012.
  • AIMS links the government ministries of 6 participating ASEAN members – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, and Philippines – along with South Korea and Japan.
  • The programme extends to 68 universities in those countries and encompasses 10 fields of study.

Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (SHARE)

  • Its objective is to strengthen regional cooperation as well as enhance the quality, competitiveness and internationalisation of ASEAN higher education institutions and students.
  • SHARE is a project funded by an EU grant which began as a four-year initiative (2015-2019) and has been extended until 2021.
  • SHARE is providing more than 500 scholarships for ASEAN university students to put the improved systems to the test, mainly by supporting student exchange and credit recognition within the ASEAN region. Each student will receive a fully funded scholarship to study abroad in another ASEAN country for one semester.

Recruiting in Vietnam

BMI runs more than 80 events in over a dozen countries each year. Join these events in Vietnam to recruit students directly via our fairs and attend our peer-to-peer events to build connections with high school counsellors and recruitment agents.