SMU Overseas Representative Office in Vietnam: Bridging Academic Excellence and Real-World Relevance

By the SMU Digital Marketing Team 

As a university that has consistently distinguished itself as a leading institution, SMU remains steadfast in its commitment to bridging the gap between academic excellence and real-world relevance. In the University’s latest endeavour to expand its regional footprint as part of its ‘Growth in Asia’ strategic priority, it has set its sights on Vietnam’s bustling metropolis: Ho Chi Minh City. The new SMU Overseas Representative Office in Vietnam, known as the SMU Overseas Centre Ho Chi Minh City (OC HCMC), is set to play a key role both in bolstering SMU’s regional reputation and fostering meaningful collaborations. 

“Choosing this location is the culmination of extensive research and alignment with our institutional objectives,” says OC HCMC Director Viet Anh Vu.  

“A staggering quarter of Vietnam’s GDP is rooted in HCMC, attracting over 50 international banks and housing more than 3,000 representative offices from 62 nations.” 

Beyond its economic stature, the city resonates with an insatiable quest for top-tier education. After all, Vietnam’s vision is ambitious and clear: to transition from a lower-middle-income nation to the upper echelons by 2045 

But first, it needs to cultivate a workforce equipped for the global stage. Recognising this challenge, the Vietnamese government laid the legislative groundwork in 2018, signalling a transformative shift towards modernising higher education.  

“There’s a palpable hunger for superior education in Vietnam,” Mr Vu emphasises. 

“The Vietnamese government’s investment in education has catalysed an increase in tertiary enrolment. HCMC, in particular, boasts over 110 higher-learning institutions, nurturing a student population exceeding 700,000.” 


SMU’s Overseas Centres: embassies of opportunities

Conceived as one-stop shops, SMU’s Overseas Centres are dedicated hubs that support students, faculty, and partners through a single point of contact.  

Viet Anh Vu, Director, SMU Overseas Centre Ho Chi Minh City (OC HCMC)

Viet Anh Vu, Director, SMU Overseas Centre Ho Chi Minh City (OC HCMC)

“In recent years, SMU’s presence in Ho Chi Minh City has deepened,” adds Mr Vu, whose career has spanned partnership development roles in Singapore as well as Europe. 

“Our initiatives range from international immersion programmes, SMU-X overseas projects, to internships and student exchange.” 

Being referred to as SMU’s “embassies” is no hyperbole. The Overseas Centres are pivotal in amplifying SMU’s regional presence, reputation, and in solidifying partnerships that resonate with both economic and social impact. 

For instance, SMU’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) had teamed up with the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) on establishing the Institute of Innovation (UII). Located on the UEH campus, this forward-thinking institute champions practical strategies to cultivate innovation and amplify start-up competitiveness. 

“More than just a partnership, SMU takes immense pride in its role as the foundational knowledge ally for the inception of the UII, exemplifying our dedication to fostering innovation and academic growth in the region,” notes Mr Vu. 


Pioneering new pathways of regional outreach

As SMU strives to make purposeful impact, its activities have led to establishing strategic outposts in vibrant Asian cities. OC HCMC is the latest addition, complementing the successful establishment of Overseas Centres in Jakarta and Bangkok. 

By tapping upon the capabilities of Overseas Centres across the region, alongside the cutting-edge research and pedagogy of SMU, this integrated ecosystem ensures a continuous flow of knowledge, best practices, and innovation. 

“In essence, the OC HCMC is not just a representative office but a strategic conduit for fostering relationships, promoting understanding, and driving collective growth,” says Mr Vu. 

With a dual mission to foster academic excellence abroad and catalyse socio-economic progress, the Overseas Centres facilitate vibrant exchanges by aligning with local institutions and industries. 

“Through gathering market intelligence and maintaining a pulse on industry trends, we can anticipate opportunities and challenges alike,” Mr Vu remarks. 

“This proactive approach ensures our students and partners benefit from real-time relevance, making our Overseas Centres educational hubs and strategic envoys, fostering growth and change in line with the evolving market needs.” 


A blueprint for sustained impact

As SMU plants its flag in Vietnam’s most populous city, the ripples of its presence are already being felt. The University’s reputation for excellence precedes it, setting the stage for promising interactions to come. 

The early feedback for SMU’s venture in Ho Chi Minh City has been overwhelmingly positive, notes Mr Vu. Active engagement from SMU’s alumni network reflects a deep-rooted affiliation with the University, while industry leaders and governmental bodies are eager to collaborate. 


“This OC HCMC will serve as a nexus for SMU to intimately engage with the local market, recognising opportunities in real-time.”


Moreover, rising inquiries from prospective students show a demand for the academic experiences SMU provides. These promising signs point to a bright future and a solid groundwork for expansive growth and collaborations. 

As SMU continues its journey of regional expansion, the new Overseas Centre in HCMC stands as a testament to its vision, resilience, and commitment to making a difference. 

“This OC HCMC will serve as a nexus for SMU to intimately engage with the local market, recognising opportunities in real-time,” says Mr Vu. 

“Our goal is more than just academic excellence, but also to foster meaningful and lasting contributions to the Ho Chi Minh City community and its industries.” 



Learn more about the SMU Overseas Representative Office in Vietnam here.