Higher education in Thailand
Asia and Middle East's First & Only Monthly Magazine, Web Portal on Innovation in Education
April 2006

Higher education in Thailand

Views: 591


 

Education reforms have been an ongoing process in Thailand as is it with its        any neighbours in Southeast Asia. Reforms in Higher Education sector have   also been a key area in development. The history of higher education in      Thailand can dates back to 1889 when the country’s first medical school Siriraj Hospital was established. Since then, over 141 universities, both Government and private and over 50 other private higher education institutions have been established in Thailand including two open universities. Recognising today’s rapidly changing world, Thailand has embarked on a long term educational  planning in order to meet the nation’s human resource requirements. The  Commission on Higher Education, Thailand with support from the Ministry of Education has embarked on several initiatives that focus on technology as the engine for enhancing outreach and quality in education.

The history of higher education in Thailand can dates back to 1889 when the country’s first medical school Siriraj Hospital was  established. Since then, over 141 universities, both Government and  private and over 50 other private higher education institutions have  been established in Thailand. In 1970, two open universities were also opened to provide an effective and  economical way to respond to the growing public demand for access to  higher education. Both have made use  of modern technology such as radio and television to broadcast
tutorials to a wider audience and  the two universities presently share around sixty percent of all  tertiary enrollments. Thailand’s higher education has been
integrated into the national  development plans since their  inception in the early 1960s. However, recognising today’s rapidly changing  world, Thailand has embarked on a  long term educational planning in  order to meet the nation’s human resource requirements for future   generations. Thus, the Ministry of University  Affairs (MUA) formulated the nation’s  first long term plan for  higher education (1990  – 2004) and elements of this was incorporated
into the Seventh  National Higher  Education Development Plan spanning the years  1992 to 1996. In order to achieve these goals,  the plans place emphasis on equity,  excellence, efficiency  and  internationalization.   The organization
of Higher  education The Ministry of  Education Regulatory   Act, promulgated in July 2003 has  amalgamated education related agencies like the Ministry of  Education, the Ministry of University  Affairs and the Office of National Education Commission. The  Commission of Higher Education is one of the central administrative  bodies of the MoE, with a legal status  as juristic person.
The Commission of Higher Education (CHE) is directed by the Board. The  Board has the authority to formulate  higher education development policies and plans corresponding to the National Economic and Social  Development Plan and the National Education Plan.  The CHE is primarily involved in policy recommendation. Higher  education standards, higher education development plans, and handle international cooperation in  higher education. Along with devising criteria and guidelines for  resource allocation and providing financial support for establishment of  higher education institutions, the CHE is also responsible for monitoring, inspecting and evaluating the  outcomes of higher education management. The CHE is also  involved in several other functions as prescribed by the Minister of  Education or Council of Ministers.

The ICT Master Plan for Higher Education (2002-2006)
This Master Plan, which aims at training IT-related skills to teachers  and educational personnel in higher education institutions, specifies two  important objectives: 1) development of designers and users of  technologies for education will be supported in order to promote selfstudy  as well as ability in applying technologies to education and in  accessing information; 2) 40 percent  of personnel in higher education institutions will be trained to use  technologies for education. Under the IT Plans of Higher  Education Institutions, most of the  higher education institutions include  training IT-related skills for their  teachers, educational personnel and students  in their master plans. A  number of teachers and educational personnel  have been trained to use ICT in developing  teaching-learning  materials while learners  have been trained to use ICT as a tool in accessing information  required.  Following the National  Education Act, 1999,  and  with a focus on  enhancing the nation’s  competitive capabilities  by creating more  educational  opportunities to reduce the difference between  the knowledge levels of the population, the  Office of the Commission  on Higher Education has
Quality is the challenge, quality is the concern
Dr Pavich Tongroach, Secretary General, Commission on Higher Education,
Thailand in an exclusive conversation with Rumi Mallick of Digital Learning.
? What are the challenges of higher education in Thailand?
The challenges are same as everywhere in the world. In terms of man power development we have to create manpower for the country who could push the society ahead. Hence we have to deliver good quality product. This is what the society expects from us. So quality is the main challenge in terms of human  resource development and knowledge  development, the research being either for basic knowledge or acquired knowledge
? What is the policy focus of higher education in Thailand!
The policy is based on our situation. Thailand is doing quite well in terms of quantity. All together we have around 137 universities plus some other higher learning institutions so we have close to 200. This is a little  too many for quite a small country. In terms of intake, we seem to be able to  take care of all the demands coming from high schools. If all the students  who qualify school are going to university, the chances are they will  be accepted in university. However, the major concern is the quality. It  does not mean we have problems with quality as such, but we have a wide  range of quality, based on so many no
universities. At the far end we have  universities, which are ranked as world best and the others, which are trying to upgrade the academic  curriculum.

Are the quality standards same for private and Government university?
Is there any difference in the way they are enforced? The standards are similar for private and Government Universities. The quality standard assurance agency is not very old. The agency has completely one cycle of 5 years of  quality check, and is starting on the  second cycle, which has more stringent rules for better quality.

How are ICTs being used in higher  education in Thailand to build human resource that can become a part of the knowledge society and can address the challenges of globalization?
ICTs are being used extensively in higher education in Thailand. At the  university level we give them freedom  and independence to develop their own infrastructure. Its quite common that each lecturer will have his own  website, academic department will have their own server which is a part  of the campus network. At the  national level our commission is running the inter-university network called the UniNet. UniNet is one of  the strongest private network in the country. This is also linked to the  international network in the US and its
interconnection of universities in North America and also with the  pacific network of universities. We  have wide scope of potentiality to link internationally via the ICT.  Recently Thailand has come up with a very interesting and innovative initiative- the Thailand Cyber  University. It’s not an university in itself but a virtual one. This is a huge  web portal. We encourage people to add educational resources that can  be shared. We have engineering
courses, medical, physical sciences and social science courses etc.  we have 10 thousand e-book available online. 

been developing and providing various opportunities as follows: • Developing the UniNet IT infrastructure, to connect every institution of higher education to the Internet for education and  research.
• Supporting the production of courseware for dissemination via UniNet.
• Developing the Learning Management System (LMS).
• Developing the e-library, ecommunity and the learning resource sharing centre. Thailand Education and Research Network (UniNet) Initiated in1996 UniNet is Thailand Education and Research Network, (http://www.uni.net.th/en) the ICT infrastructure connecting all universities, institutions, and campuses in the country, through ATM network via 155Mbps
bandwidth fiber optics. This infrastructure is aimed at connecting the networks in Bangkok to the rural provinces through digital leased lines with 2Mbps bandwidth The primary objective of UniNet is to provide Internet access for Universities– network infrastructure for research and facilitate IT campus for  istance Learning. UniNet is aimed at  developing self-study centers with electronic library databases, the Internet, multimedia, video-ondemand;  these centers will connect to the high performance network,  develop social-learning and lifelonglearning systems by creating  multimedia courseware, and providing  knowledge databases and distance learning systems. This is also aimed at training teachers and  assistants to apply ICT in  educational development. UniNet is the Education network  backbone of Thailand. Currently this has 145 Participants  including public universities, IT campuses, private universities etc.  The Thailand Cyber University The Thailand Cyber University (TCU)  is an initiative to assist all the higher  education institutes to deliver distance learning via the Internet. The  initiative also aims to ensure that all online courses are of a high quality  and meet government standards  and  promote the sharing of teaching resources and human resources.

? What tangible goals have you set for higher education institutions  in Thailand to achieve global excellence in education?
We have not come up with any realistic guideline even though we talk  a lot on this. We have discussed to what level is it required for all  institution to put in the ICT component as standard. When I was  working in Chulalonkorn university many years ago, we decided that we  need to put in at least 25 ICT
components at that in the learning environment in all subject areas. But  that was many years ago, I am still not sure whether Chulalonkorn university  is moving in that track. Thus we may have to come up with a guideline  where 50% of teaching and leaning will have ICT component.

? Is CHE partnering with other countries in education?
Yes we are partnering with many countries. A few months back we had discussion with the ministry of Human Resource  Development in India and UGC, the council of the Indian university  we have many good programmes running with many countries. The maximum number of programmes are  with Japan, more than 30 programmes with the French government from  molecular biology to fashion designing. We are also encouraging  direct investment of private sectors in education by encouraging direct  funding for setting up universities. Helping universities to run  programmes, in kind supports or sponsorship to students. We encourage Private sector investment  but we have not seen as much as we would have wanted to see.

? What solutions do you advocate for  the broad development of lifelong learning?
We have tried to encourage this through the numerous non-formal education centres. The non-formal education centre throughout the country has been a big success. We encourage those who have missed  out on learning at certain points in their life to join and learn. Lifelong  learning means maintaining to learn or  updating knowledge throughout life. And we try to do these though our graduates to improve their skills so  that they are able to contribute to the
society productively.

? What would you say has been your  achievement in your role as the secretary general of Commission?
My colleague and I have been put in a few milestones in the development of higher education in Thailand, we have developed this standard guideline, the bible that all university are working on to keep up to the standar

network infrastructure for research and facilitate IT campus for Distance Learning. UniNet is aimed at  developing self-study centers with electronic library databases, the Internet, multimedia, video-ondemand;  these centers will connect to the high performance network,  develop social-learning and lifelonglearning systems by creating  multimedia courseware, and providing knowledge databases and distance learning systems. This is also  aimed at training teachers and assistants to apply ICT in  educational development. UniNet is the Education network  backbone of Thailand. Currently this has 145 Participants including public universities,  IT campuses, private  universities etc.

The Thailand Cyber University
The Thailand Cyber University (TCU) is an initiative to assist all the higher education institutes to deliver  distance learning via the Internet. The initiative also aims to ensure that all  online courses are of a high quality and meet government standards and promote the sharing of teaching  resources and human resources.

Mass media for education outreach
In cooperation with the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), the TOT Corporation Public Company Limited, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and international organisations under the aegis of the  United Nations, the DLF presently broadcasts educational TV  programmes via satellite through 14 channels. Among these, 12 channels are devoted for the direct  teaching programmes at basic education level. The other two  channels are the international channel broadcast in foreign  languages and the community/tertiary education channel.  The DLF international channel airs its international programmes in Thai, English, French, German,  Japanese and Chinese. The programme coverage includes arts  and culture, music, science and technology, agriculture, environment,  health and innovation. The Ku-band
satellite pattern covers China (Kunming), Cambodia, Laos,  Myanmar and Vietnam. All these neighbours received the Royal  Granting of distance learning
equipment from His Majesty the King. The community and tertiary education  channel focuses on vocational and  university education. Among the Higher Educational Institutions, the Rajamangala Institute  of Technology (RIT) and Sukothaithemmathitirat Open University (SOU) produce direct  teaching programmes particularly for their students. The RIT broadcasts  programmes via the C-band satellite pattern while SOU broadcasts programmes through Channel 11. In September 2000, SOU was granted  Royal permission to conduct weekday broadcasts via the Ku-band satellite  pattern through the community/ tertiary education channel of the  Distance Learning Foundation (DLF).  Thailand has 514 radio broadcast  stations, of which 25 of which are designated for educational purposes. At the level of higher education,  Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, operate radio stations.  Thammasat University and the RIT, etc. broadcast programmes providing  general knowledge as well as entertainment.

e-Learning services
The Distance Learning Foundation launched the free-of-charge contentbased  eLearning service from the  Distance Learning Television, Wang Klaikangwon, Hua Hin District in May 2002. The eLearning web page of the  DLF “www.dlf.ac.th” allows Internet users anywhere in the world to view “live broadcast” all the educational
Thailand Cyber university cooperates with higher educational institutions, state and private educational institutions to develop lessons for different courses, using quality e-learning study programmes for formal education, informal courses and study guides, short certificated courses and also promotes sharing educational resources between institutions

simultaneously with the actual broadcast. Moreover, by means of eLearning or eTraining, users anywhere are able to participate in the Flexible Learning Scheme via video conferencing and the Internet.  It is worth mentioning that in carrying out His Majesty the King’s lifelong  learning policy, concerted efforts and support from various public and  private organisations, both within Thailand and in foreign countries are leading to the achievement of the DLF. At higher education level, the increasing popularity of eLearning was  seen in several universities. Among these are two state universities,  Chulalongkorn University and Kasetsart University (KU) operates  Chula Online and KULN (KU Learning Network). The University of the Thai  Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), a
private university, has also initiated eClassrooms.  Apart from educational institutions, other government agencies also took  part in providing online learning. For instance, the National Science and  Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) in collaboration with  Thailand Graduate Institute of Science
and Technology (TGIST), has launched “LearnOnline,” a website  that was developed to serve as a central place for web-based courses  from well-known universities and organizations. Other web-based  courses offered include Cyber
tools for Research, Digital Design, Bioinformatics, Biodiversity,  Technology Management and English for Science and Technology. More  details about LearnOnline are available at http://www.learn.in.th/.

Developing materials and other technologies for Education  In 2002,
the MOE implemented several projects regarding the development of  materials and other technologies for education to be used at the level of  basic education. As for the development of software, media and learning content, the MOE has also initiated: 1) to procure legal software; 2) to encourage teachers and educational personnel to produce software that aid the teaching-learning process; 3) to encourage educational institutions, learning centres and learning sources to develop websites so as to exchange knowledge; 4) to establish multimedia centres; 5) to develop a standardised database system; and 6) to encourage, through competition, the development of multimedia and software that aid the  teaching-learning process. So far, approximately 300 electronic  books and 1,500 websites have been developed and are being used as  learning sources. Among these,
educational institutions under the sponsorship of the SchoolNet project have developed 700 websites. Moreover, the MOE also initiated a competition that will be organised  annually to support the private sector in relation to development of  multimedia and software that aid the teaching-learning process.

There is an increasing popularity of eLearning among universities, the state universities, Chulalongkorn University and Kasetsart University (KU) operate Chula Online and KULN (KU Learning Network). The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), a private university, has also initiated eClassrooms

For each year, 100 sets/subjects of multimedia and software will be selected as prototype. So far, 300 sets/subjects of multimedia and software have been developed and 10 multimedia centres have been established. As a crucial factor in the transformation of Thai society into a knowledge-based society, the Ministry has embarked on an effective utilisation of technologies for education to improve the quality of  teaching and learning as well as make lifelong education for all Thai people more promising. In this regard, continuous and concrete actions must  be taken to deal with the priority tasks. These include development of materials and other technologies for education and bridging the digital  divide between Thailand and othercountries as well as between Thai people living in urban areas and those living in rural areas.

Most Popular

To Top