University in Canada vs. Vietnam

How do Western universities fare against Eastern ones? Where should you go?

British poet Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”  There are  differences in history, culture, traditions and social concepts between East and West, and higher education is also different. This overview and comparison will benefit both students and parents who are interested in the issue.


Canada: Review Applications.
Vietnam: National Entrance Exams.


For high school students, admission is based on final GPA of grade 11 and 12 or mid-term average grade if the student is in the 12th grade. Subjects in the major that the student applied for will be checked carefully. Universities and majors have their own benchmarks for admission. Normally, the arts group will score lower, followed by the science group. The trade and technical sectors are usually the two highest-rated groups. Students complete the application form during grade 12. The deadline for submissions is usually in the middle of January. Students who have good grades will receive early acceptance/ admissions from the school as early as February or March. Regular offers will go out by May and students must respond to the school’s offer of acceptance by June 1st. Each of the country’s provinces has a different registration process. Some provinces get a center to receive the applications  for all of the colleges in that region. In other provinces, students need to contact the school directly.

Universities and colleges are different education streams at two different levels. High school students should decide whether they want to attend college or university by the eleventh grade. This choice will determine the course level in grade 11 and 12. Students enrolled in university will pursue higher education with higher requirements than those entering college.

International high school students have to submit additional English language requirements. Normally, it is equivalent to 6.5 in IELTS and no skills are under 6.0 for university. For colleges it is equivalent to 6.0 in IELTS and no skills are under 5.5. Applications of international students must be in earlier than domestic students. When preparing for a visa application to Canada, international students should complete the submission at least eight months before the course starts.


Unlike Canada, enrollment in universities in Vietnam is more exalted because of entrance examinations. Since 2015, high school graduation exams and university entrance exams have been grouped into one National High School Examination. This exam consists of four exams, including three compulsory tests in mathematics, literature, foreign language and a combination test: natural science (chemistry, physics, biology) or social science (history, geography, civic education). Exam forms and schedules vary depending on the Ministry of Education’s annual guidelines. This is a large-scale, nationally-focused examination, which always attracts media and the public’s attention.

Before the exams, students rely on career counseling sessions that provide information on the academic program, career orientation of each major, employment opportunities, enrollment methods as well as benchmarks of previous years to decide which major to enroll in. There is no limit to the number of schools to submit, but students are often advised to be careful in prioritizing their aspirations. The Ministry of Education Vietnam announces a base grade for the graduation exam and the university admission. Each college or university then assesses the number of applications, candidates’ scores and the enrollment quota before publishing their admission benchmarks. Candidates who score equal or higher than the benchmark will be sent a Letter of Admission. Candidates with lower scores may apply for the next qualifying round.

In parallel with the regular university system, there is also an international university system in Vietnam. These are 100 per cent foreign-invested universities and are usually branches of universities located in Vietnam such as RMIT Vietnam University or Greenwich University Vietnam. The admissions process at these schools follows the pattern of the original universities abroad. The pre-requisite for these schools is usually the English requirement of IELTS 5.5.

Tuition Fees

Canada: Differences Between Domestic And International, Schools, Majors And Years.
Vietnam: Differences Between Schools, Years.


Tuition fees at Canadian universities vary widely between local and international students. Tuition fees for international students are higher than for local students.

Tuition fees vary between universities and across disciplines of the same school. Arts and sciences are less expensive than medicine, law and commerce. Tuition fees also differ by year of study. In some programs, upper years are much higher than lower years.


Universities in Vietnam do not have many differences between local and international students. International universities have higher tuition fees than national universities. Annual tuition fees tend to increase over the previous year. Some majors at some universities are free, such as pedagogy and traditional musical instrument training.

Training Program


Program majors are broken down into minor, major or specialist. Students can either become a specialist in their program, do a double major in two programs or take one major and two minors to complete their degree.

The majors are usually selected in the second year. Students need to plan their own studies, track the requirements of subjects, and register to ensure their graduation. Each program has  course requirements for students. Registration for the course is conducted online and takes place at least one month prior to the beginning of the semester. Registration is very competitive. Final year students are usually given priority so that they can sign up for the required courses to fulfill their degree. Third year and second year come next, while first-year students register last.


Training programs at universities in Vietnam are divided into two parts:

  • General knowledge: Approximately half of the entire curriculum is distributed in the first two years of study.
  • Specialization: Students study the subjects they have chosen. Soft skills are not included in the academic program but are accumulated by the students themselves.

The faculty/department provides course schedules and timetables for each semester. Students register with the school and pay tuition fees on a semester basis. All students must attend military training and physical education courses as a condition of graduation. These two courses are not included in the student’s transcript. In physical education students play sports such as soccer, badminton, and basketball. For military courses, students go to a military camp for a period of two weeks to one month.

At international universities such as RMIT, the training program follows the original foreign one, but some general courses are added in accordance with current regulations of the Ministry of Education of Vietnam.

Training Methods And Examinations


Universities in Canada are competitive and the relationship between the student and professor is quite distant. Especially with the larger universities, first-year classes can have up to 1,000 students enrolled. Students are encouraged to get in touch with professors by talking to them after classes or signing up for a meeting during the professor’s office hours, if needed. They can also email the professor if they have any questions.

Students often seek help from the course’s teaching assistants (TA) first. Students can talk about their studies with TAs and often the student’s work will also be evaluated by TAs. For third-year and final-year students, the class size is smaller and there may not be a TA. Students then communicate directly with the professor.

Students aare provided with information about the criteria of assessment at the beginning of the course. Assessment is a combination of three to five different elements with mid-terms and finals heavily weighed towards the final grade. A student who plans to study will be able to work and stay in school and still have good results. International students are allowed to work for no more than 20 hours a week or they can work full-time on summer or school breaks.


Classes at Vietnamese universities are smaller. Large lecture halls can accommodate up to 300 students. The instructor is the only person who is responsible for the subject and directly answers the questions of the students. Students are encouraged to talk to their instructors in class, after school, by email or by phone.

Students are also provided with course content, timetables and assessment methods at the beginning of the course. For general courses, subject marks are the average of the two midterm and final exams. For specialized subjects, the final exam will be held at the same time for all students of the faculty or the department. Exams may be marked by faculty, departments or school teachers. The final examination is held by the department.

Due to the influence of social points of view, educational tradition and study habits, Vietnamese students in the international arena are less active and creative than international students but their thinking, analyzing, researching, and absorbing abilities are somewhat superior. That is the reason why at international competitions, Vietnam is often named in the list of awards, but international forums rarely see the name of Vietnam argued. Whether it is an Eastern or Western school, there are limits and advantages. It is important that learners find the right method for themselves, combining East-West traditions to be able to develop their full potential and integrate into the world.

Some Useful Websites For Information, Statistics And Reviews About Canadian Universities:


– Maclean’s Education hub:  provides updated guidelines annually by universities, and evaluates universities based on student surveys.

– Universities Canada: has the latest statistics on tuition and scholarships at universities across Canada


Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS)  is the provincial portal that provides information on career trends, opportunities and guidance as well as study plans.

British Columbia

Post-Secondary Application Service of BC (Apply BC)  this is the entrance gate to the province’s public colleges and universities.


Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC)  this is the entrance gate to the province’s public universities.

Ontario Colleges this is the entrance gate to the province’s public colleges .

eINFO : The website provides information on the university education sector and university enrollment guidance.

Common University Data Ontario (CUDO) A useful tool for students and parents to find information about each university, such as the number of awards received, the number of students enrolled in each sector, the fees, and the percentage of students employed after graduation.

A useful website to learn about enrollment information and universities in Vietnam

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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