Many developing countries are in the process of restructuring their higher education system to meet their nations socio-economic development. As their educational budget is not unlimited, working with international educational institutions has become one of the attractive solutions to improve the quality of their education and to make it relevant to meet their nations educational demand for economic development. This paper identifies some key issues which have prevented the vietnamese higher education system from serving effectively its countrys open-door policy and provide necessary recommendations to help vietnam overcome its shortcomings and weaknesses. The issues identified together with recommendations, on the other hand, may help some educational policy makers from developed countries select their fields of assistance or cooperation as well as to establish their long term educational strategies to deal with developing countries such as vietnam. 1997 International association of universities. Published by elsevier science ltd. All rights reserved.