To read this content please select one of the options below:

Economic efficiency of higher education institutions in Vietnam between 2012 and 2016: a DEA analysis

Thien-Vu Tran (Department of Digital Economics and Electronic Commerce, Vietnam – Korea University of Information Technology and Communication, The University of Danang, Danang, Viet nam)
Thao Phuong Pham (Department of International Economics, Foreign Trade University, Hanoi, Viet nam)
Mai-Huong Nguyen (Center for Socio-Economic Analysis and Databases, VNU University of Economics and Business, Hanoi, Viet nam)
Long-Thanh Do (The Office of National Programmes on Science and Technology, Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology, Hanoi, Viet nam)
Hiep-Hung Pham (Personal Development Research Group, UCAM Catholic University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain) (EdLab Asia Educational Research and Development Centre, Hanoi, Viet nam)

Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

ISSN: 2050-7003

Article publication date: 10 February 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




This paper aims to examine the economic efficiency of Vietnamese 172 higher education (HE) institutions within the 2012–2016 inclusive period through the Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) approach. The authors also compare public and private, multidisciplinary and mono-disciplinary, non-autonomy and autonomy, non-international and international HE Institutions’ efficiency.


This study derived from an unique dataset from the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) of Vietnam. The data set comprises financial and academic annual reports of higher education institutions (HEIs). The authors achieved totally 204 Vietnamese HEIs, and the sample for analysis is 172 after the elimination of missing units, accounting for 84.3% entire of Vietnamese HEIs. The authors estimate the efficiency scores relying on these selected inputs and outputs by using the DEA method.


Overall, HEIs in Vietnam decreased their operational efficiency during the 2012–2016. It also seems that public universities operate in the absence of market mechanism so that they tend to be less efficient than their counterparts in private sector. Based on our analysis, the authors observe that the HEIs including the international programmes have higher efficiency scores rather than these without international programmes.


This study contributes to the theoretical aspects as follows. First, it enriches the existent efficiency literature on HE using the DEA approach. This stands out among similar studies in Vietnam in terms of duration (from 2012–2016) and data size (172 entities). Second, the research is the first to examine HEIs in terms of disciplinary (mono or multi-disciplinary) and autonomy (autonomous and non-autonomous), internalization (international programmes). These aspects have been silent in previous studies of HEIs in Vietnam.



Funding: This research is funded by “Chey Institute for Advanced Studies (CIAS) and the Asia Research Center, Vietnam National University, Hanoi (ARC-VNUHN)” under project “Economic Efficiency of Higher Education Institutions in Vietnam: The DEA Approach”, number CA.20.06A.


Tran, T.-V., Pham, T.P., Nguyen, M.-H., Do, L.-T. and Pham, H.-H. (2023), "Economic efficiency of higher education institutions in Vietnam between 2012 and 2016: a DEA analysis", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 199-212.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles