Higher Education in Vietnam

University entrance is based on the scores achieved in the entrance examination. High school graduates need high scores to be admitted to universities. Securing a place in a public university is considered a major step towards a successful career, especially for those from rural areas or disadvantaged families. The pressure on the candidates therefore remains very high, despite the measures taken to reduce the importance of these exams. In 2004, it was estimated that nearly one million students took the exam but, on average, only 20% passed.

Normally, candidates take three exams for the fixed group of subjects they choose. There are many fixed groups of subjects:
Group A: Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry
Group A1: Mathematics, Physics, English
Group B: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry
Group C: Literature, History, Geography
Group D: Literature, Foreign Language, Mathematics

Group D consists of six subgroups based on the languages they provide in universities:
Group D1: entrance exam subject is English; major language in university is English, but there are also French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin and Korean.
Group D2: entrance exam subject is Russian; major language in university is Russian
Group D3: entrance exam subject is French; major language in university is French, students can choose Italian instead
Group D4: entrance exam subject is Chinese; major language in university is Mandarin
Group D5: entrance exam subject is German; major language in university is German
Group D6: entrance exam subject is Japanese; major language in university is Japanese

Besides these, there are groups for artistic and cultural education:
Group H: Literature, Colored Painting, Pencil Drawing
Group M: Literature, Mathematics, Singing and Expressive Reading, Instrument Performance (optional)
Group N: Literature, Tone and Melody, Vocal
Group R: Literature, History, Journalism
Group S: Literature, Theatrical Talents
Group T: Mathematics, Biology, Sports
Group V: Mathematics, Physics, Drawing

In 2007, Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training started to use multiple choice exam format for several subjects during the university entrance examination. These subjects include Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Foreign Language. Each multiple choice exam lasts 90 minutes. The foreign language exam consists of 80 multiple choice questions; meanwhile, the Physics, Chemistry, Biology exam has 50 questions. Math, Literature, History and Geography exams use composition format.

Starting from the entrance exam of 2013, 10 artistic and cultural universities will remove Literature from the exam of the group H, N and S. Instead, the results of three years in high school and the scores of the HGE will be used to evaluate the candidates.

Starting from 2015, high school graduation and university entrance merged to one exam. Each student will take at least four subjects for the exam including three compulsory — mathematics, literature and foreign language (mostly English) — and one sub-subject such as physics, chemistry, geography, biology, history. After the result has been given, the student can use their score to pass the high school graduation exam and to go to their desired college with three chosen points from the four given.

Types of higher education institutions
Vietnamese Government decree (decree 43/2000/ND-CP, dated August 30, 2000) identified three types of higher education institutions:

"Đại học" (university), which is a multidisciplinary institution offering fields of study and which has research capacities. Five major multidisciplinary universities in Vietnam are Vietnam National University, Hanoi; Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City; Huế University; University of Da Nang; Can Tho University Can Tho University and Thai Nguyen University.
"Trường Đại học" (senior college), which is more narrowly focused in its curriculum, sometimes on a single study area.
"Học viện" (institute), which is also narrowly focused in terms of study area but which may have a specialized research capacity.

In addition, there are junior college or community colleges, professional secondary schools, and vocational schools which offer degrees or certificates.

In the school year 2010-2011, Vietnam had 163 universities (including senior colleges and institutes) and 223 junior colleges, in which 50 senior colleges and 30 junior colleges are non-public.

The presence of foreign universities is increasing. Universities such as PSB International College, RMIT, Eastern International University and University of Hawaii offer degrees in fields such as business, English as a Second Language and Information Technology. Running a foreign education system in Vietnam is challenging. Quality control and affordability are key issues, as well as red tape.

Higher education qualifications
Associate Degree (Vietnamese: Cao đẳng): a three-year program delivered by junior colleges (including teachers colleges and others) and by some universities as additional training programs.
Bachelor's degree (Vietnamese: Cử nhân): a four- to six-year program — six years for students studying medical and dental sciences; five years for students of industrial engineering; and four years for the majority of other undergraduate degrees such as Social Sciences. Graduates receive degrees with a title corresponding to their field of study such as bachelor (cử nhân), engineer (kỹ sư), medical doctor (bác sĩ), or lawyer (luật sư), etc.

Most of Vietnam's universities also offer master's (two years) and Doctor of Philosophy (four years) degrees.