Conversations with higher education leaders about re-engaging, retaining, and graduating adult students.

Charlie Nguyen has an extensive track record of delivering executive-level advisory services to universities and EdTech companies on market selection, product development, business model, and operations and
international expansion strategy. With over 20 years of higher education experience, he has led $200M+ multi-state P&L and advised executive leadership at various universities on the globalization of brands, intellectual property, operations, and localization. Charlie has also aided university clients in conducting due diligence and negotiating international strategic partnership agreements.

He pioneered and hosted three annual US-Sino Online Higher Education (USOHE) summits in conjunction with China’s Ministry of Education and the top 100 universities in Shanghai and Beijing.

One of Charlie’s most notable achievements is conceiving, devising, and launching Global Employment Ready Education (GERE), a 12-month apprenticeship program designed to solve tech talent shortages for employers by empowering underserved populations to launch tech careers. Through GERE, international students earn a high-demand degree in Digital Arts & Sciences (VR/AR) with the University of Florida, Digital Worlds Institute from anywhere in the world while working on real-world projects at NetDragon’s headquarters in Fuzhou, China. Charlie oversaw a system-wide initiative for international expansion inclusive of global competitive landscape assessment, go-to- market strategy, product development, and localization while delivering insights and partnering with senior leaders.

Moreover, Charlie launched an International Services Platform and powered five US universities to offer online degrees to Asia-based adult learners and employers. He raised capital with operations in the US, China, and Vietnam, formed strategic partnerships with 157 public/private Chinese and Vietnamese universities, and created and launched the EastWest1+1 program, the first-year online in the home country, and the second year on-campus in the US. Charlie Nguyen’s vast experience and accomplishments have made him a true leader in the field of higher education.

For our new series of Perspectives in Higher Education, Dr. George Rohde sat down with Nguyen to find out how institutions can focus on bringing back adult learners in 2023.

Rohde: Can you give some background about yourself and your career in higher education so far?

Nguyen: I am a life-long learner with 20 years of experience in higher education. I have worked in various roles, from Head of Enrollment to Territory Vice President to Vice President of Global Operations. Before my current position as VP of DeVry University’s Enterprise Solutions, I was the VP of Global Operations and Corporate Development at the Apollo Education Group. I have also launched new initiatives such as Global Employment Ready Education (GERE) for US market at Western Governors University, an experiential learn and earn platform to solve tech talent shortages for employers by empowering underserved populations to launch tech careers.

Rohde: What brought you to be an advisory board member here at myFootpath?

Nguyen: Many students drop out of college and are forgotten. Significant portion of these students face barriers to complete their education and gain access to the next rung of their career. However, as technology evolves and accelerates, education is needed now more than ever, there is a huge
opportunity in the marketplace to reengage these students, which can be achieved through the work of organizations such as myFootpath.

Rohde: What about the adult learner interests you as a market opportunity personally?

Nguyen: Having been an adult learner myself, I understand the population more than most. Many adults want to return to school and earn a credential, but the barriers to doing so are so great that the desire alone is insufficient. On the flip side, many higher education institutions are not prepared to address this challenge. This is an example of a two-side market opportunity that will yield win-win.

Rohde: What trends, if any, have you seen in higher education when it comes to investing in adult learners?

Nguyen: While the focus has been elevated over the years, I have not seen a proven
at-scale solution or new significant trends, which is why myFootpath is such an
interesting and unique solution. There is a vast technology and skill gap in the workforce that higher education can solve, and universities are obligated to serve the adult population in an effort to close it.

Rohde: Why do you think, despite the fact that adult students present a huge market opportunity, they are still considered a niche population?

Nguyen: Traditional universities are not designed to accommodate busy adult students and their needs. As a result, this population falls through the cracks. That is where myFootpath comes in and allows universities to operate as they always have, but without leaving this growing segment of the population behind.

Rohde: What is your goal for 2023 in working with myFootpath and serving as an advisory board member?

Nguyen: My goal is to elevate my collaboration with myFootpath’s leadership team so that I can provide as much support to the mission as possible. From there, I can be a more effective advocate for myFootpath’s mission with various universities. With the fast emergence of technology such as AI, the effort to reskill and upskill is even more critically urgent.