U.S.-affiliated university in Vietnam welcomes its first students

Photo of seated student, reading, next to quote about Fulbright University Vietnam (State Dept./Photo © Jet Huynh)Although Senator J. William Fulbright (1905–1995) was a cultural exchange advocate who launched the prestigious Fulbright Program for scholars around the world, there is only one university that bears his name: Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV), located in Ho Chi Minh City.

Established in 2016 with support from the U.S. and Vietnamese governments, FUV is the first independent, not-for-profit, U.S.-affiliated university in Vietnam. It promotes U.S. values — academic freedom, diversity, autonomy, meritocracy and transparency — while embracing Vietnam’s culture, history and traditions.

FUV aims to provide an education that builds Vietnamese leaders with the skills to tackle global challenges. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs and offers financial aid for those in need.

In September, FUV admitted its inaugural undergraduate class — which includes Khang A Tua, a member of the Hmong ethnic minority group.

Young woman and young man playing table football (© Jet Huynh/Fulbright University Vietnam)
Khang A Tua (right), shown at Fulbright’s Crescent Campus, says Fulbright “is more than a university — it is a big and lovely family” that offers many areas of study. (© Jet Huynh/Fulbright University Vietnam)

At 25, Tua is older than his classmates, and he’s overcome many obstacles. Tua’s journey from the countryside to the campus he now calls home was not simple.

A native speaker of the Hmong language, Tua learned Vietnamese to further his education. For two years, he attended the Hanoi University of Science and Technology, before deciding it wasn’t right for him. He wanted to become a teacher, not a chemist.

When applying to FUV, because his English was limited, he used Google Translate to complete the application essay. But Tua was accepted, and his English improved rapidly.

Tua says he’s “very thankful” for Fulbright’s instructors. They inspire him as he plans to design an academic curriculum for Hmong children someday.

FUV is among 82 U.S.-affiliated colleges and universities outside the United States, with a combined enrollment of 17,000 students, says the nonprofit Cross-Border Education Research Team.

Promoting higher education abroad represents a uniquely American model for workforce development. The United States works with countries and local communities to establish long-term partnerships.

Recruiting students of diverse backgrounds, FUV will prepare them for careers “in the world’s best companies,” says the school. “In 25 years, Fulbright University Vietnam will be the top choice for students in Vietnam and across Asia.”