Department of Educational Administration


Date of this Version


Document Type



Le, A. (2014). Vietnamese international student repatriates: An exploratory study. PhD dissertation, University of Nebraska.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Administration (Educational Leadership & Higher Education), Under the Supervision of Barbara LaCost. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 Anh Le


The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the experiences of Vietnamese international students who returned to Vietnam after graduation from a U.S. higher education institution (henceforth, the repatriates). Areas to be explored include the transitional period, perceptions of the relevance of the U.S. education to their current life, reflections on their experience in the U.S., and their future plans. The knowledge drawn from this study can serve as useful reference information for current and future recruitment efforts, support services, and courses geared toward Vietnamese international students.

The current study aimed to explore the experiences of the mostly unheard voices of a particular group, the Vietnamese international student repatriate population. The researcher sought to understand this population through inviting them to describe their experiences using their own stories and interpretations of their lived experiences. Thus, qualitative research approach would appear to be the most effective and appropriate approach to accomplish the study’s purpose.

Study participants are Vietnamese international students who graduated from a private university in the northeastern region of the U.S. whose functional pseudonym will be “Sunny University.” The participants were purposefully selected based on two criteria: 1) graduated from the selected university and 2) had returned to Vietnam to live after graduation. Seven student repatriates participated in the study.

Using open-ended interviews and follow-up communications, the participants were invited to discuss their experiences in depth. Extensive notes were taken from the interviews. The interviews were transcribed, translated, and coded for further analysis. Major themes were identified and interpreted to create a deep understanding of the participants’ experiences.

Each participant brought their own background and personality with them to their study abroad journey. However, analysis of their interviews revealed major themes regarding similar concerns, experiences, and aspirations across their reflections. Their conversations revolved around four major themes: factors influencing their decision making processes regarding their departure and repatriation, adjustment processes to life and career changes, personal development and relationships, and career trajectories and aspirations.

Advisor: Barbara LaCost