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After Automobiles, VinGroup Dabbles in Higher Education With VinUni

The major Vietnamese real estate conglomerate plans to open a non-profit, private university in Hanoi with enrollment beginning in 2020.

According to a press release reported on by VietnamNet, the university aims to achieve international standards of education and training that will provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and experiences to succeed while contributing to national and global progress.

It will focus on three core areas: business, technology, and health sciences. The group has formed partnerships with 20 of the world’s best universities, including Ivy League schools such as Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania. It will also place importance on appearing alongside international leaders in rankings such as Quacquarelli Symonds and Times Higher Education.

This is not the company’s first foray into education. In 2013 it established three schools in Hanoi for kindergarten to high school students with a current total enrollment of 13,000. VinGroup is also planning to open a school in Saigon and a healthcare-focused college near Hanoi, according to Nikkei Asian Review. Monthly tuition for the currently open schools is VND6 to 7 million (US$263 to $307), compared to as low as VND100,000 (US$4.5) at some public schools.

The announcement reflects a growing trend of corporate-led schools in Vietnam. In 2005, Vietnam passed legislation legalizing the commercialization of education. The schools were advised they could function like corporations with decisions made by a board of governance comprised of shareholders and not faculty or student representatives.

In 2006, FPT, a noted Vietnamese IT company, founded the first corporation-affiliated university in Vietnam followed soon after by corporations such as Ha Hoa Tien. Domestic institutions are also experiencing increased international funding, with ILA, Vietnam Australia International School, and YOLA all receiving or seeking global investments, according to Deal Street Asia.

There is some skepticism about the motives behind the corporations’ founding of schools. With the increased demand for internationally competitive education programs and Vietnam’s booming economy, the schools’ profitability is one obvious answer. But the schools also impact other areas of a corporation's bottom line.

Education infrastructure increases surrounding property values, which explains why the current Vinschools are all near VinGroup condos. Moreover, large development plans that include schools are privy to tax breaks and have been observed to more easily gain approval.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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