UK lauds education credentials in strategic engagement with Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The United Kingdom has named education services as one of the nation’s key strategic sectors, which it is looking to expand in Laos, according to British diplomats.

 “I think that education will be the key driver of the British engagement in Laos” the UK Ambassador to Laos, Mr Hugh Evans said at a press conference held following the launch of the Study UK and English Language Road Show held at Crown Plaza Hotel in Vientiane on the weekend.

The road show, which included workshops, attracted a large number of Lao students looking for the opportunity to study in the UK. A number of British educational institutions and businesspeople were at the event to provide information about UK education.

Mr Evans said although Laos was a small market, UK education services had great potential to expand thanks to the landlocked nation’s economy growing annually at around 7 percent.

One of the UK’s strategies to expand their education sector in the Lao market is to support and facilitate British business cooperation with local partners to offer a territorial foundation programme.

This programme will train Lao students so they will be ready to study in the UK or British university campuses in the region, particularly Vietnam, Malaysia and China. Many Lao students first need higher English proficiency and analytical skills to allow them to assimilate into the new education system.

When asked about the unique value of a UK education, United Kingdom’s Trade Envoy to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Mr Ed Vaizey said it not only offered students the opportunity to learn English but also equipped them with analytical skills and ability to understand the complexity of problems.

He said apart from education, the UK would like to engage with Laos and expand business cooperation in the areas of engineering, hydropower, tourism and finance.

There were more and more British tourists wanting to visit Laos and UK businesspeople could establish partnerships with local enterprises to bring British tourists into Laos, Mr Vaizey highlighted.

According to Mr Evans, the UK is preparing to form a British business group, which is expected to be registered and fully functioning soon.

“We are working closely with the Lao National Chamber of Industry and Commerce and European Commerce Chamber,” he said.

The group represents different firms and a wide range of sectors. For example, one of the UK’s most successful firms is Laos Prudential, which is an insurance company, he said.

He added that the UK government would like to encourage British businesspeople to invest and do business in Laos as part of efforts to bolster economic cooperation between the two nations.