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France is said to be the nation which brought the modern higher education to Vietnam with the establishment of the University of Indochina in 1906, the first modern university in Vietnam. France is also the country which trained the first professors and managers in the first half of the 20th century. The cooperation between the two countries chiefly that in joint training programs has continuously developed despite all ups and downs in the relation of the two countries. This paper, therefore, looks at these two systems respectively. On the basis of their respective characteristics, challenges and achievements, it points out some similarities and differences between them and some influences that the French higher education (HE) may have on the Vietnamese HE system as well as the role played by joint training programs in Vietnamese - French university - university cooperation.