Vietnams higher education has witnessed substantial improvements since the implementation of the doi moi (renovation) policy. One of the significant developments is the promotion of establishment and enhancement of the role of private institutions in national education systems. However, the quest to improve the overall performance of the private higher education institutions remains a big challenge for many stakeholders. We assess the performance of vietnamese private universities using a data envelopment analysisbased bootstrap directional distance approach with quasi-fixed inputs. The results show that there was a large variation in the efficiency levels of private universities within and between academic years and between metropolitan and other private universities. Our empirical findings provide more insights for educational leaders and policy makers on the performance of private higher education institutions and the implications of privatization of the national higher education system. 2018, 2018 Informa uk limited, trading as taylor & francis group.