Vietnam and Switzerland should further their cooperation in higher education to create more opportunities for students to study overseas, a conference in Hanoi heard on Oct. 12.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Tran Quang Quy said improving higher education standards is a key national goal. However, how best to boost standards to meet socio-economic development goals remains a challenge, she said.

"Deeper co-operation between top-ranking universities and colleges in Switzerland and Vietnam, especially in the fields of banking, finance, insurance, tourism and hotels, will benefit Vietnam's development," he said.

At the moment, 460 students are participating in five joint programmes between Swiss and Vietnamese universities.

Swiss Ambassador to Vietnam Andrej Motyl said Vietnamese students are both diligent and thirsty for knowledge.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Minh, deputy director of the ministry's General Department for Vietnam Education Development, said many Vietnamese students wanted to study in Switzerland but find tuition fees and accommodation expensive.

She said more Vietnamese students will study in Switzerland if tuition fees are reduced and accommodation grants made available.

Since 2010, 2,820 graduates have won places to study in Europe, North America and Asia through programmes funded by the Government.

There are at the moment 364 joint programmes between Vietnam and 47 countries that have allowed 25,140 students to study abroad.

At the conference, partnership agreements were signed between Swiss and Vietnamese universities. /.