Understand your market, communicate more effectively.

 

Understand your market, communicate more effectively.

Report from Viet Nam (October 2014)

Current Situation

New Zealand Education has been promoted in Viet Nam for several years, and there are currently about 2000 Vietnamese students studying at a wide variety of institutions.

Growth in the “Study Abroad” market has been strong over recent years, with an expanding middle class, and New Zealand is seen as a quality and safe provider, albeit small. However, there is wide perception amongst Vietnamese that Viet Nam is simply too crowded, so our smallness is an advantage, particularly with a growing awareness and desire for emigration.

Given that the population is about 90 million, compared with 68 million in Thailand, there is very significant potential for growth if Viet Nam follows Thailand’s development path.

Viet Nam has experienced significant inflation, and with the common Asian distrust of banks, many families have cash available but are quite price sensitive. Unfortunately, the lack of banking history in a family also creates problems for visa approvals.

Over the last few years our competitor countries all shown significant growth in Student Visa approvals, the number of applications for NZ has declined, and the proportion of declined visas increased, resulting in a significant reduction in visas approved. This has a “snowball” effect on the confidence of Agents to promote New Zealand, although INZ verbally reported a 10% increase in applications for the first 3 months of this year. The reasons INZ give for the decline in approvals are

  • It is easier to get visa approval for other countries, particularly Australia.
  • Statistics over the last few years show that Vietnamese students are a higher risk than students from other countries for overstaying, or not fulfilling their stated study plan. (I believe that there are very understandable reasons for this that are not entirely the students’ fault.)
  • There are many dubious and fraudulent documents submitted, particularly around funds available, and the source of funds. (INZ advises that “certain provinces” are well known for producing forged documents, and applications from there are scrutinised carefully. Australia is said to have a “blacklist” of certain areas.)

On the face of it, however, why should NZ be finding overstaying and fraudulent documents a bigger problem than is Australia or other competitors whose numbers are growing? Comment from Agents is that NZ is much tougher than any other country – there is no “benefit of the doubt” given.

One solution to that is the implementation of a Funds Transfer Scheme, through the ANZ Bank, which has been highly successful in China, India, and the Philippines. The local INZ Manager announced that they will finally implement a trial scheme, but unfortunately will probably require 2 years of funds to be deposited, which will make it so unattractive, it will be doomed to failure.

Through various representative bodies, we will make submissions over these issues, but until policy (or policy implementation) changes, all we can do is work with Agents to try to ensure that they recruit quality students with genuine documents.

 

FACTORS possibly affecting change

Viet Nam is still a fairly undeveloped market, and growth in student numbers will come from economic growth, rather than any change in market factors. However, it is worth mentioning

1.ASEAN

With the development of ASEAN in general, and as a regional development block (AEC) in particular, economic growth should continue at a good rate.

As with other countries, increasing wealth and westernisation leads families to look at sending students abroad at younger ages, and there is a small but growing demand for Primary Schooling off-shore.

2.Competitor countries

Given its history, it is not surprising that many Vietnamese still look to Russia and Germany for Study Abroad experiences and a second language. English is widely studied in Viet Nam, and only small numbers come to NZ to study only ESOL, except in increasingly popular “Summer Camps.” (Tour Groups). For intensive ESOL-only study, the Philippines is making significant inroads.

The vast majority of Vietnamese students are looking for High School, or tertiary programmes, that lead on to a degree. Whatever level of study they come for, they will almost certainly require some intensive ESOL tuition prior to their course. (Or for High Schools, concurrent with their course.)

As mentioned above, many Vietnamese are price sensitive. Education New Zealand states that NZ is perceived to be the most affordable country for study abroad within the traditional 5 English speaking countries, although I don’t know the basis of that claim. However, the question must be raised about whether New Zealand providers are charging prices that can see them successful against new and existing competitors. Education New Zealand is very opposed to the “supermarket model” but premium prices need to be justified by premium products. New Zealand’s reputation for tuition quality, and Pastoral Care, should provide some premium over our competitor countries. However, given that tuition quality is “guaranteed” by NZQA, can providers justify the price ranges seen in the market? For example

NZ High School fees range for $10,000 pa to $16,000 pa
ESOL fees range from $250/week to over $400/week ($12,500 to $20,000 pa)
Tertiary fees range from $10,000 pa (some PTEs) to over $20,000 pa (both PTEs and Universities)

That is not to say that premium prices should not be charged, but providers need to clearly identify and promote the “additional benefits” of their product that justify the premium price. We will be working on an international price comparison over the next few months.

3.Vocational

As a developing economy, the most popular vocational courses have been in business, and more recently in tourism management, and hospitality management. There is increasing interest in technical courses such as IT, Animation etc.

4.Study-to Residence Pathway

As mentioned above, many Vietnamese express the view that Viet Nam is too crowded, and with too many problems, and emigration is widely spoken about. The Study-to-Residence Pathway is not well known amongst Agents, and is definitely an opportunity for us to promote the concept.

(Study-to Residence Pathway = 1 year study at L7 or above  (OR 2 years at L6 and below) PLUS 1 year Post-study Work Visa PLUS 2 year Work Experience visa, with a suitable job,  giving sufficient points to meet Residency requirement)

 

Our Strategy

Use of digital media for generic promotion of

New Zealand as a study destination to provide quality added-value to a students’ education, but at our member schools in particular.
The opportunities for post-study work in New Zealand, and particularly the Study-to-Residence pathway.

Identify agents in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City who will work with our group, in particular in promotional activities specifically in support of our member schools. Ideally those agents will have offices or branches in smaller centres, where we can also actively promote ourselves.

Identify agents in smaller centres with whom we can work on promotions. We have so far identified agents in

  • Da Nang
  • Vinh
  • Hai Phong

Find agents who work in, or have branches, or relationships in

  • Can Tho
  • Bien Hoa
  • Hue
  • Nha Trang

Develop a market visit programme in September each year focussing on potential Primary and Secondary School students (plus Tertiary), and in January or February each year focussing on Tertiary (plus Secondary)

 

Bruce Cleland

Chairman

© Choose New Zealand 2014

Schools/Institutions we work with