Australian National University, 30 July 2015. Following in his father’s footsteps, by James Walsh.

Today, Australian Alumnus, Nguyen Xuan Tu is the Director General of Vietnam’s Department of Investment Supervision & Appraisal at the Ministry of Planning and Investment. In 1993, Tu graduated from Australian National University (ANU) with a Masters Degree. Tu has just returned to ANU to see his son graduate with his own Masters.

JAMES WALSH traces the making of a two decade-long dream shared between a father and a son.


It’s 1993 and Nguyen Xuan Tu is standing outside Crawford School (at the Australian National University) with his arm around his son, Hieu. Far from their home in Vietnam, Xuan Tu is in Canberra completing a Master of Economics of Development.  He urges his son, “Make sure you remember Australia. I want you to study here one day.”

More than twenty years later, Xuan Tu and Hieu are standing outside Crawford school once again as he graduates with a Master of Environmental Management. It’s the realisation of a dream that has been two decades in the making.

“I only have a few memories from that time,” Hieu recalls. “I came to Canberra when I was five years old. My father brought me here while he was studying.”

It was his father’s experience at ANU that encouraged Hieu to apply for a Masters program at Crawford School.

“I completed a Bachelor of Environmental Management degree in Vietnam. After that I applied for the Masters program in Crawford School. I deliberately chose to study here because this is where my father studied. “

With his Masters degree now complete, Hieu is focused on the opportunities ahead.

“After I graduate, I want to go back to Vietnam and start working in the development sector. I’d like to work on green growth.”

The green growth framework describes economic development which minimises negative impacts upon the environment.  Studying the framework will be valuable for his career in environmental management.

“My country is a developing country. When you develop, you have a trade-off between environmental protection and economic development. With the knowledge I have gained, I can help empower Vietnam to balance economic development and environmental protection.”…

For Xuan Tu, returning to Canberra brings back many memories from his time studying at the Crawford School.

When I come here, I feel like I am coming home. Today we had lunch in the gardens – it was close to the old Crawford School. I cannot believe that it was twenty years ago that I was studying here.”

Now the Director-General of the Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment, Xuan Tu credits much of his career to what he had learnt while studying in Canberra.

“There were so many benefits from my Masters course. At that time, Vietnam was changing from a centralised economy to a market economy. We didn’t have enough experience or knowledge about how a market economy operates. The knowledge I gained at ANU was very useful for handling the challenges that Vietnam faced at that time.”…

  • To view the original and unedited article, click onto Following in his father’s footsteps.
  • Photo caption: Nguyen Xuan Tu and his son, Hieu, stand outside the Crawford School at ANU. Photo: ANU.



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