Among the variety of investment areas in Vietnam, the
education sector is becoming one of the most appealing.
Consumer expenditure on education continues to rise in Vietnam.
According to the British Council, consumers spent $8.6 billion
on education in 2015, which is forecast to increase to $12.8
billion by 2021. According to statistics provided by the
Ministry of Planning and Investment, for the first half of
2017, Vietnam attracted over $701.69 million in foreign direct
investment via 336 projects in this sector.
To support this trend, the government has enacted Decree
86/2018/ND-CP on foreign cooperation and investment in
education (Decree 86), which came into effect on August 1 2018,
with the key features mentioned below.
Increased enrolment of Vietnamese students
Previously, the maximum rate of Vietnamese students
permitted to enrol in a foreign educational programme was 10%
or 20% of the total number of students, respectively, for
primary/secondary school and high school. The remaining 80% to
90% of foreign students was not achieved in practice. Decree 86
has increased that maximum rate of Vietnamese students to less
than 50% of the total number of students in those programmes in
educational institutions, creating more advantages for foreign
In addition, the prohibition against Vietnamese children
younger than five years old enroling in a foreign educational
programme has been abolished. However, Vietnamese students are
required to study mandatory subjects specified by the Ministry
of Education and Training.
The procedure of approving the establishment of short-term
foreign-invested training/education institutions has been
simplified. Foreign investors now need to follow only three
procedures, rather than the four previously required, saving at
least 40 working days. In the past, the competent authorities
hesitated to provide direct permission for M&A activities,
as the law was unclear. Decree 86 clearly stipulates that
foreign investors may engage in M&A activities such as
share acquisition and capital contribution in a domestic
educational institution or a foreign-invested business entity
that has already established an educational institution. Thus,
the authorities' permission should be more timely and precise
Investment in education still remains challenging since the
government's control over the sector is quite strong and
complicated (such as prohibited activities in national security
and defence, the political and religious sectors, and approval
of the authorities with respect to the curriculum or subjects).
Additionally, there are numerous requirements on investment
capital, curriculum, teachers, and infrastructure, among other
things. Therefore, investors are advised to carefully study
Vietnam's complex regulatory environment when considering
cooperation and investment in this field.