Is US university education worth all the investment?

By Editorial   September 18, 2017 | 05:32 am PT
There are more Vietnamese students studying in the U.S. than Canadians, but given the costs, is it really worth it?

As of March 2017, Vietnam had sent nearly 31,000 students to the U.S., ranking fifth among the countries with the most students at American educational institutions, according to the latest U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program report.

To put things into perspective, Vietnam ranks higher than Canada and Japan when it comes to total enrollment. Vietnam continues to distance itself from its Southeast Asian peers by being the top source of students from the region for the U.S. Even the election of President Trump hasn't managed to deter Vietnamese people's positive view of the U.S. Their favorable view of the United States has actually increased from 78 to 84 percent over the past year.

Here are some of the striking numbers:

> Vietnam's average annual income in 2016: $2,200 (World Bank)

> Vietnamese parents spend 47 percent of total household income on their child's education (HSBC)

> Average annual cost of university tuition fees and living expenses in the U.S. as estimated by College Board for 2016/2017 are as follows:

- $17,000 (community college)

- $24,610 (in-state students at a four-year public college)

- $39,890 (out-of-state students at a four-year public college)

- $49,320 (private non-profit four-year college)

> By the end of 2016, the number of Vietnamese students abroad had reached 130,000 with a mere 4 percent of them being state funded. (HSBC)

> Vietnam now has 30,279 students in the U.S., with 30 percent enrolled in community colleges – on their way to a bachelor degree via the 2+2 option – and 30 percent attending four-year institutions. (U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program)

> The number of dollar millionaires in Vietnam is expected to increase by more than 2.5 times from 14,300 in 2017 to 38,600 in 2026. (U.K. real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank)

> In 2016, the U.S. issued work visas to 464 Vietnamese nationals.

> Fresh graduates in Vietnam earn $250 to $387 per month, but those with a foreign degree and work experience are more likely to be hired for top level positions.

As Vietnam's education minister Phung Xuan Nha put it last December: "Vietnamese parents can sacrifice everything, sell their houses and land just to give their children an education."

Or as one parent who's sent two of her children to study in the U.S. told VnExpress International:

"To us, our lives don’t really matter anymore. Our children’s do."

Is a U.S. university education worth such a sacrifice? What's the true value of a U.S. education? Does it go beyond calculating return on investment?

(Dollar millionaires and those on a full scholarship don't count)

Let us know in the comments section or click here to submit your think-piece. The best pieces will be published on VnExpress International for further debate.

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