Students in Vietnam can soon pursue a ‘world class’ tertiary education right at home, as U.S. President Barack Obama announced the first private university in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Convention Center in the country’s capitol, Hanoi, Obama said that this autumn, the new Fullbright University Vietnam will welcome its inaugural batch of students.

At the non-profit, American-style university, “there will be full academic freedom and scholarships for those in need,” he said.

“We believe that if you can just access the skills and technology and capital you need, then nothing can stand in your way,” he added.

Obama emphasized that students will be able to choose from a wide range of courses, from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects to liberal arts.

In his speech, Obama also spoke of strengthening the country’s gender equality in education, as “strong, confident women have always helped move Vietnam forward.”

“Families, communities and countries are more prosperous when girls and women have an equal opportunity to succeed in school, and at work, and in government. That’s true everywhere, and that’s true in Vietnam,” he said.

The Vietnamese government has given the green light for the university, and has approved in principle the university’s legal status, its official seal and bank account, and has also put the university’s education and training program under the management of the Ministry of Education and Training. 

Of the project’s estimated cost of around US$70 million, 28.5 percent is funded by the U.S. government.

The university will also be supervised by the city’s People’s Committee.

Image via AP Images.

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