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The recent years have witnessed a rapid growth of the e-learning market in Vietnam, especially since the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite that, a clear legal framework for e-learning business under Vietnamese laws is still unavailable. This post will discuss some legal issues concerning the provision of e-learning services.

The recent years have witnessed a rapid growth of the e-learning market in Vietnam, especially since the Covid-19 outbreak. Despite that, a clear legal framework for e-learning business under Vietnamese laws is still unavailable. This post will discuss some legal issues concerning the provision of e-learning services.

Mode of delivery

In general, e-learning business could be provided to students via two main modes:

  • Non-interactive mode, where students will pay to have access to learning materials prepared by the service providers (e.g., pre-recorded lectures, books, etc.), and there is no live interaction between students and teachers. The students are expected to self-study the materials provided by the service provider; and

  • Interactive mode, where in addition to access to study materials, students will pay to attend online classes held by teachers, and there is live interaction between students and teachers.

    During the Covid-19 pandemic, e-learning via interactive mode has grown substantially and become a favorite choice for students and their parents. However, the legal framework regulating e-learning via interactive remains undeveloped as the laws only regulate education services via traditional methods.

E-learning via Non-interactive mode

Under Vietnamese law e-learning delivered via non-interactive mode could be considered as the following services:

  • Distribution or leasing of studying materials;

  • Online publishing of studying materials;

  • Online release of studying materials; and

  • E-commerce service (e-commerce trading platform). 

In general, these services are not considered as educational services and are not subject to the regulations on education (e.g., the Education Law 2019). Foreign investors in e-learning delivered via non-interactive mode are subject to the following limitations:

  • Trading license under Decree 9/2018 for distribution of studying materials and E-Commerce Service (if applicable);

  • Foreign-invested enterprises may only retail books in supermarkets or convenient stores; and

  • All books and publications must be published via State-owned publishing houses.

E-learning via Interactive mode

The provision of e-learning services via interactive mode could be considered as the provision of educational services (dịch vụ giáo dục). Vietnamese law does not specifically regulate the organisation of online classes. However, there are some relevant regulations as follows:

  • Under Decree 86/2018 on foreign investment in education sector, a foreign-invested company providing online classes could be considered as a short-term education and training service provider (Cơ sở đào tạo, và bồi dưỡng ngắn hạn). However, the conditions for a foreign investor to establish a short-term education and training service establishment under Decree 86/2018 are not suitable for online classes provider. For example, Decree 86/2018 requires an investment capital of at least VND 20 million per student (excluding land use fee) and has a training facility which provides for an average area of 2.5 square metter for each student.

  • Under Circular 17/2012, the provision of online classes teaching compulsory education programs issued by the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) of Vietnam could be considered as “extra teaching, extra studying” (Dạy thêm, học thêm) activities. Circular 17/2012 imposes certain restrictions on extra teaching and extra studying activities which may impact the provision of online classes as follows (1) no extra teaching will be given to students who study two shifts in their schools; (2) no extra teaching will be given to students at elementary level; and (3) students in an extra class must have similar competency.

  • The provision of online classes could be considered as regular educational activities (Giáo dục thường xuyên) under the Law on Education 2019.  Remote teaching is one of the mode of delivery for regular educational activities.

  • Under Circular 4/2014, the provision of online classes could be considered as after-class education activities (Hoạt động giáo dục ngoài giờ chính khóa). Circular 4/2014 provides for various requirements that a company must satisfy when providing after-class education activities including a permit issued by the provincial Department of Education and Training.

    This post is written by Nguyen Thuc Anh and Nguyen Quang Vu.

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