Rare Student Protest in Vietnam Gets Results

March 19, 2009

Hanoi, Vietnam — In a country where students rarely protest anything, officials of Hong Bang University, in Ho Chi Minh City, have decided to cancel a tuition increase after hundreds of protesters took to the streets, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.

The demonstrators created traffic jams as they waved signs and shouted slogans protesting the sudden increase, which would have raised this semester’s tuition by $29. The protest, tame by international standards, caught the attention of administrators, who later that day canceled the increase and let the fee remain at $162. The officials said they realized the added cost would hit families hard, especially as Vietnam’s economy is suffering from a decline in export orders and unemployment is sharply rising.

Hong Bang is what is known as a “people’s university,” which is Vietnam’s version of a private institution. Because such institutions receive no government money, many of them are under more pressure to raise fees, especially since inflation has been running in the double digits for nearly a year. —Martha Ann Overland