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Thai Higher Education Policy _Issue


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									            Thai Higher Education: Policy &Issue
Differentiation and expansion of Higher Education Institutions within the
higher education system
Currently, participation to Thai higher education has almost reached 40 percent of the age
group of 18 – 22 years old. The phenomenon has put the Thai higher education at a
crossroad of quantitative and qualitative dilemmas. To tackle these dilemmas, Office of the
Higher Education Commission (OHEC) tried to reposition the Thai higher education system
to act in response with the emerging needs of the society and economy. The categorization
of Thai higher education system had been designed to reflect strengths and aspirations of
higher education institutions into four sub-systems namely: (1) research and postgraduate
universities, (2) specialized including science and technology and comprehensive
universities, (3) four-year universities and liberal arts colleges, and (4) community colleges.
Each sub-system would serve national priorities and strategies as well as addressing global,
national, regional and local demands with the goals to enhance the country
competitiveness, and to serve as prime-movers for the development of real sector
workforces, manufacturing and service sectors. The long-term intended goals of the plan are
for the decentralization of governance, continuing and lifelong education, social and
economic productivity improvement, and right down to equipping migrant workers with
requisite skills and knowledge.
(1) research and postgraduate universities
Research and postgraduate universities will focus on providing postgraduate degree
programmes, especially, doctorate, and producing researches and post-doctoral researches.
Graduates from these universities will be important brainpowers that lead national
development. Research and postgraduate universities play important roles in developing
Thai higher education’s academic excellence by generating new body of knowledge and
technologies appropriate to Thailand’s needs.

(2) specialized including science and technology and comprehensive universities
Specialized science and technology and comprehensive universities will provide
comprehensive study programmes in their respective fields of study such as physical
science, biological science, social sciences, humanities, and technologies. These universities
may focus on producing researchers and skilled workforces. They also have crucial roles to
develop manufacturing and service sectors. Specialized and comprehensive universities may
also be divided into 2 sub-catagories: postgraduate and undergraduate degree programmes.

(3) four-year universities and liberal arts colleges
The main role of four-year universities and liberal arts colleges will be to provide high
quality Bachelor’s degree programmes, producing well educated workforces equipped with
advanced knowledge and skills for large scale business entrepreneurs which are the most
important driving force for national economic development. These institutions of higher
learning may also deliver postgraduate degree programmes.

(4) community colleges

Community Colleges are institutions focusing on offering degrees lower than Bachelor’s
degree, equipping and retrain employed workforces with requisite skills and knowledge to
add value to manufacturing and service sectors. They also play crucial role in improving their
respective communities in terms of life-long learning and local social and economic

Furthermore, in order to promote capable universities to produce more researches crucial
to development of Thai higher education’s academic excellence, and manufacturing and
service sectors, OHEC has initiated the National Research University Initiative. OHEC had
selected nine public universities that meet criteria for establishing national research
universities for which additional budget will be allocated for upgrading these nine
universities. These research universities will focus on conducting research projects that
genuinely benefit the country’s development in terms of economy and society in order to
help improve people’s quality of life. The research projects conducted by the national
research universities will focus on areas that can truly benefit the country’s development,
and can be areas related to development of industrial sector, agriculture or others which
will be approved by the Cabinet.

National strategic policy frameworks on higher education (including
strategic plans/blueprints or policy innovation for the development of
higher education) in the past 10 years

National strategic policy frameworks on higher education in the past 10 years

During the past ten years was a major transitional period for decentralization of Thai higher
education administration. The administrative authority for higher education management
system has been transferred from OHEC to institutional level. At the governmental level, the
three main agencies related to national education namely: Ministry of Education, Ministry of
University Affairs and National Education Council were merged to form the new Ministry of
Education in 2003. The amalgamation was a consequence of the National Education Act
(1999) and the bureaucratic reform in Thailand. The new Ministry of Education consists of
five core agencies as follows:
    1. Office of the Permanent Secretary,
    2. Office of the Education Council,
    3. Office of the Basic Education Commission,
    4. Office of the Higher Education Commission, and
    5. Office of the Vocational Education Commission.

The reform also affected higher education institutions, especially, in terms of governance
and university personnel management. The Thai Government had encouraged public higher
education institutions to transform their status to “autonomous university” in order to
increase efficiency. In addition, the government shifted policy not to establish any more
conventional bureaucratic public university. Consequently, new public universities
established after 1990, such as Suranaree University of Technology, Mae Fah Luang
University, and Walailak University, were established with autonomous status. Since 2006,
the Thai Government had submitted more Acts to transform public universities into
autonomous universities and ten more public universities attained their autonomous status.
These ten universities included King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi,

Chulalongkorn University, Chiang Mai University, Thaksin University, Burapha University,
Mahidol University, King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok, King
Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Mahamakut Buddhist University, and
Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya Buddhist University.

In terms of national strategic policy framework on higher education, OHEC launched two
higher education policy papers including the roadmap for higher education quality
development and the Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on Higher Education (2008 – 2022).

The roadmap for higher education quality development has a prime objective of producing
good quality graduates and researchers who will contribute to the country social and
economic development. It focuses on improvement of higher education in four aspects
namely: 1) quality of graduates, 2) quality of faculty members, 3) quality of researches, and
4) quality of education provision. The roadmap had been enforced during 2005-2008 prior
to the launching of Thailand Qualifications Framework for Higher Education in 2009.

The Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on Higher Education focused mainly on the quality
issues of Thai higher education system. Such system will lead to the production and
development of graduates of quality, capable of life-long work and adjustment. The major
outcomes of the Plan included the development of knowledge and innovations, basic and
critical to the country’s competitiveness and supportive of sustainable development of all
sectors in Thailand. The quality system will be achieved through management mechanisms
and measures of good governance, financing management, higher education standards and
university networking. Foundation to this is the university academic freedom, diversity and
unity of the system.

The Long Range Plan on Higher Education discusses on nine issues of Thai higher education
development which based on seven scenarios of the global, regional and local socio-
economic environment. The seven scenarios are:
   1. Demographic change,
   2. Energy and the Environment,
   3. Future Employment,
   4. Decentralization of the country and development of local administrative bodies,
   5. Peaceful conflicts resolution and violence,
   6. Post Modern/Post Industrial world
   7. His Majesty the King’s initiation on “Sufficiency Economy”
It is expected that the seven scenarios will have impact on social and economic
development, as well as, the Thai higher education development. Relevant implications are
drawn and the following nine issues are discussed to address the scenarios:

   1. Articulation of university system with basic education and vocational education
      To upgrade quality of basic and vocational education quality, especially, in
      competency in Thai and English language, basic sciences, and mathematics, in order
      to supply competent student to higher education. To this aim, higher education will
      contribute as follows:
          a. Improvement of teacher education delivered in universities,
          b. Establishment of study programmes for gifted and talented students, and

       c. Encouraging university to provide flexible education and training programme
          for employed workers.

2. Reforming university education system
   To address weaknesses in higher education, such as, quality of education, limited
   staff and resources, and declining performance of school students. In tackling the
   problems, a number of instruments are to be implemented including education
   assessment, education standards, and resources allocation. To achieve the intended
   goals, development of the Thai university sub-systems into research and graduate
   universities; specialized including science and technology universities and
   comprehensive universities; four-year universities and liberal arts colleges; and
   Community Colleges; have been formulated to reflect apparent mission of higher
   education institutions.

3. Good governance and management
   To strengthen university governance by delegating authority to university councils
   and university executives to be more accountable for the management of
   universities are regulated. Lessons learned and good practices of governance and
   management of renowned overseas universities are to be explored and adopted.
   OHEC encourages university to set up full time university council secretariat to
   handle effective university management.

4. Universities and national competitiveness
   With strong research bases, universities are expected to be prime movers for
   national competitiveness. National research universities, systemization of research
   funding and funding agencies, and linkage mechanism between research and various
   socio-economic sectors will be conceived. Mechanism for demand-led research
   should be further encouraged. In addition, mechanisms such as Research
   Assessment Exercise should be explored and developed for assessing university
   research capacity and potential, and review among peers should be supported.

5. University financing system
   Public financing of Thai universities is still inadequate and not well focused. It
   requires effective policy instrument, especially, on education quality and capacity
   strengthening to figure out problem. Thailand needs to design a scheme on higher
   education contribution by different stakeholders, such as public, students and
   parents, beneficiaries of universities outputs (graduates, researches, and services).

6. University staff development
   Traditionally, academic development is regarded in terms of obtaining postgraduate
   degrees and academic promotion through research. New dimensions must be
   brought into staff development, such as, mentoring in teaching, learning and
   university management; development of university leadership; research capacity
   strengthening; and awarding of successful academics.

7. Networking of universities
   Sharing and consolidation of academic programmes and teaching activities to build
   up mutual trusts among staff, and investing in common infrastructures must be
   fostered. Reducing duplication of study programmes, increasing efficiency and

       building up critical mass in research, with legal instrument in place, consolidation
       and federalization of universities should be explored in the medium to long term.
       Incentives for existing universities of forte and reputation to help strengthen new
       universities, and supporting mechanisms for university networks of various
       dimensions should be developed, for example, networks on learning, staff
       development, and community services.

   8. Higher education plan for southern Thailand
      Due to the conflict and violence in Southern Thailand, it needs a special higher
      education plan to assuage the situation in the long run. The plan calls for creation of
      cultural understanding and tolerant, recognition and cultivation of values among
      Thais that Thailand is a country of multi-faceted nature and multi-culturalism. Inward
      and outward mobility for students and youth should be promoted. Building up and
      access to quality education at all levels would ensure good and meaningful
      employment within and outside southern Thailand, and opportunities in ASEAN and
      the world of Muslim communities.

   9. Development of learning infrastructure for university education
      The university infrastructures cover humanwares, learningwares, and physical
      infrastructures. An essential learning infrastructure for successful outcomes of
      education is curriculum responsive to current social and economic demands and
      proactive towards world dynamism. Contributing factors on learning infrastructures
      are information-based society, knowledge-driven society, system underpinning life-
      long education, and learning environment. Universities must educate students for
      life and prepare students for employment.

Recent laws/legislation and institutional incentives for higher education
institutions and alignment of these laws and higher education institutional
The uniqueness of university in Thailand is that the establishment of each individual
university needs to be made by means of promulgating its own law. Being administered Thai
bureaucratic system prevented public universities from enjoying autonomy and flexibility in
their management as enjoyed by universities in developed countries. Control under
bureaucracy was difficult for Thai universities to strive for better knowledge, academic
excellence and freedom, and to provide education in response to the need of national social
and economic development. As a result, there had been attempts among faculty members
and university administrators to develop exclusive university administration system that
does not fall under conventional bureaucratic system. Thai public university administered
under this new administrative system is called “autonomous university”. At present, the
government has promulgated 13 Acts to safeguard the operation of autonomous
universities. Consequently, autonomous universities are empowered to govern their overall
administration including personnel, financing, academic, and other university management
system under the delegated authority of university council. Autonomous university also
receives regular budget allocation from the government, and autonomous university
employees are entitled to similar privileges as other government officers.
In addition to public university governing act, the government had passed additional
legislative acts on personnel management and internal administration in order to empower
public university to manage its internal affairs independently and efficiently. These Acts are:

The University Personnel Act of 2004 and Its Second Revision of 2008
The Act had been promulgated with the view to motivate university personnel with
knowledge and capability required by higher education. The Act also provided provision for
university to develop its administrators, faculty staff and personnel to enhance their morale
and ethical values and professional ethics further. The goal of the laws is to enable
university personnel to carry out their duties and responsibilities with quality and to retain
them in the institutions, as well as, to encourage them to adapt themselves to changes. The
University Personnel Act of 2004 and its Second Revision of 2008 had been in force with an
aim to decentralize authority to universities under jurisdiction of OHEC and to allow
university to formulate their own rules and procedures. The delegated authorities included
personnel management, appointment of academic tenure and recruit personnel on merit
and equity principle, in conformity with the university’s mission and philosophy, academic
freedom and excellence. According to the Act, University Personnel Committee will be set
up to lay down policies, standards, principles and criteria to be applied to higher education
The reason for promulgation the Second Revision of the University Personnel Act of 2008
was simply because the first version had been in force for a long time resulting in
inconsistent with changes in current situation. The second revision of the Act allowed
university to extend the retired age of lecturers/academics with the tenure of Associate
Professor and Professor from 60 to 65 years old so as to benefit university teaching, learning
and research. However, this procedure has to be implemented in line with criteria and
conditions set up by the University Personnel Committee. In addition, the Act also allowed
the provision of statute to raise salary of the University President, including statue for better
remuneration of university personnel.

The Administration of Higher Education Institution Internal Affairs Act of 2007
The Act gave authority to public university to establish its own internal agencies with
support from their own generating budget. The internal administrative affairs and
management system had been enhanced so as to allow Thai public higher education
institutions to acquire better flexibility and good governance. The law focused on
transparency, just and accountability of university. The Act also provided power to
university to handle its internal affairs, such as, the entitlement of head of university unit
with right and privileges equivalent to that of other head of government organization.

The Private Higher Education Institution Act of 2003 and its Second Revision of 2007
On the other hand, the establishment of private higher education institutions needs to
comply with the Private Higher Education Institution Act. A private higher education
institution has the right and authority to deliver higher education equivalent to that of
public universities. However, private higher education institutions are not entitled to receive
national budget support from the government. Financial support for institutional operation
comes from its own revenue and their licensee. The government has defined more stringent
holistic monitoring and evaluation mechanism to oversee private higher education
institutions more than it does to the public universities. At early stage, practice of close
monitoring of private higher education institutions in intended to gain public confidence.
However, established private higher education institutions experienced inflexibility in their
management. They, therefore, demanded for equal treatment as other public universities.
Up to now, private higher education institutions have enjoyed certain autonomy and

authority to manage their institutions with periodic performance review conducted by
The Private Higher Education Institution Act was enforced to provide a framework for
private higher education administration and to follow up on quality evaluation and
educational standards of private higher education institutions. In the same manner as public
universities, private higher education institutions could operate independently and develop
their own administrative system that is flexible, having their own academic freedom under
the supervision of the University Council. OHEC is responsible for scrutinizing and proposing
policies, development plans and educational standards in a more appropriate manner that
ensured secured development and enhanced the expansion of private higher education
administration more effectively. It is essential to enforce this Act so that public and private
higher education institutions are subject to supervision and quality evaluation with the
same educational standards.
However, according to the Act, there are some particulars which need to obtain the
approval from the Higher Education Commission as follows:
          - Amendment of the university regulations regarding institution’s name and
             type; objectives; location and plan showing land area and buildings;
             capital received from the Licensee and the expenditure plan; and the
             university seal, insignia or symbol, gowns and pins,
          - Receive of financial aids, educational equipment or other benefits from any
             person, the amount or value of which exceeding the amount specified by the
             Higher Education Commission,
          - Borrowing of money once or several times accumulatively exceeding 25
             percent of the present value of the assets of the private university,
          - Lease of assets with the lease fees exceeding the amount specified by the
             Higher Education Commission, and
          - Purchase or hire purchase or disposal of the assets having the value exceeding
             the amount specified by the Higher Education Commission.

The impact of national governance structure on higher education
Institutions actions
Development of Thai higher education

Thai higher education had continuously played an important role in the social and economic
development of the country. There is clear evidence of discrepancies of social status
between college graduates and that of non-college graduates. At the early stage,
universities were established to serve as driving force for the country development as well
as regional universities were then established all over the country to accelerate rural
development. Moreover, the government encouraged private sector to take part in higher
education provision in order to increase opportunities to access higher education for the
When the National Education Reform took place in 2003, the Ministry of University Affairs
was amalgamated with the Ministry of Education and was renamed the OHEC. All higher
education institutions, i.e. Rajabhat Institutes (formerly emphasizing on teacher training)
and Rajamangala Institutes of Technology (formerly focusing on technological education)
under jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education had been upgraded to university status, and

transferred under the supervision of the OHEC. Community Colleges have been established,
and subsequently, come under jurisdiction of OHEC as well.
At present, the Thai higher education system has undergone a major structural change
constituting a high degree of diversification as there are 78 public higher education
institutions, 69 private higher education institutions, and 19 Community Colleges.

Change in university governance and financing system
Universities that had been established in the early period were public universities, holding a
status of a department, and the government allocated annual budget for their operation.
Personnel, financing and general administration of the public universities had to entirely
comply with the bureaucratic system. Like other government agencies, public universities
were allocated budget from the Bureau of the Budget and audited by the Comptroller
General’s Department, Ministry of Finance. A university president received privileges
equivalent to those of a director- general who is the chief executive officer at the
departmental level, although the tenure of the university president is 3-4 years.

The Impact of National Governance Structure on Higher Education Institutions Actions
When the Royal Decree on Criteria and Procedures for Good Governance for government
agency, state enterprise and official was issued to lay solid groundwork for State
Administration to meet the targets on responsiveness; result-based management;
effectiveness and value for money; lessening unnecessary steps of work; reviewing mission
to meet changing situation; providing convenient and favorable services; regular evaluation.
In responding to public administration, the mission of government agency shall be carried
out in good faith, transparency and accountability, in response to public needs, both
national and local level. Moreover, to response to current global changes, the Thai Public
Sector Strategic Development Plan (2008 – 2009) was launched by the Office of the Public
Sector Development Commission (OPDC). The Public Sector Strategic Development Plan had
been focused on improving mechanisms and evaluation system of the planning process.
Public sectors’ planning had to be incorporated necessary features such as organization’s
missions and organizational characteristics together with key indicators able to measure the
outcomes at both organizational level and individual level. The underlying principle of the
Public Sector Development is to encourage government agencies, including public
universities to be more accountable for the management of their organizations, as well as,
extending link to the Government Fiscal Management Information System for the
monitoring and evaluation of performance with set KPIs together with auditing report.
As specified in the Royal Decree on Criteria and Procedures for Good Governance, Thai
higher education institutions, with the exception of 13 autonomous universities, have to
conduct review of their implementation in order to achieve high performance organization.
They are encouraged to conduct self evaluation according to the key performance indicators
set by the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC), and are required to
formulate short and long term development plans toward their targeted goal with approved
When the Thai Public Sector Development Strategic Plan (2008 - 2012) has been announced,
the OPDC, Bureau of the Budget and the Comptroller General’s Department, Ministry of
Finance, the Office of the National Education Standards and Quality Assessment jointly
prepare the Legislative Plan consisting details of regulations which shall be enforced to the

13 autonomous universities to improve their performance, ensure transparency and
Concurrent with the State Administration Act, the Second 15-Year Long Range Plan on
Higher Education formulated by OHEC, spanning from 2008 to 2022, has pinpointed 7 major
scenarios universities need to be aware of. One of these scenarios is Decentralization of
authorities. It also related factors and internal attributes of the Thai university education on
higher education financing. The key theme of the Long Range Plan is an effort to eliminate
persistent problems of the Thai higher education financing in order to set the right
directions for higher education development, lessen duplication, upgrade quality, and
enhance efficiency. One of the key measurements to achieve this purpose, categorizing
higher education institutions into 4 groups needs to be undertaken. It is also recommended
an approach to address problems on higher education diversity and redundancy by
categorizing higher education institutions that differently define their role, mission and
service areas.
Each group of universities will be encouraged to excel in accordance with its mission, and
will receive budget from the government in line with its mission. Therefore, higher
education institutions have been categorized into 4 groups namely Research/Graduate
University, Specialized/Comprehensive University, Liberal Arts University, and Community
College. The 4 groups of higher education institutions will have differentiated mission and
It is obviously seen that supervision of highly diversified higher education system has an
inevitable impact on the policy formulation on quality and standards upgrading, resource
support, and monitoring and evaluation of higher education institutions’ performance. The
‘one size fits all’ policy is impossible to be implemented efficiently. Managerial adjustment
and the quest for collaboration on higher education development in the same direction are
not likely desirable.
There is the major factor to drive the grouping of universities. Higher education financing
reform has adopted the following principle:
           • Allocation of performance-based budget responsive to manpower
              development policy and country development directions.
           • Balanced and connected supply side and demand side financing to be put in
              place through a block grant.
           • For supply side financing, block grant budget will be allocated to students
              through the Income Contingent Loan, adopting market-driven approach.
              However, for some programmes that need to be maintained to create
              knowledge for the society, students will be granted full scholarship regardless
              of the market need.
           • With regard to supply side financing, block grant budget will be directly
              allocated to higher education institutions according to the specific policy
              framework, for instance, infrastructure development, faculty development,
              research and development, etc.
           • The budget will come from specific-purpose higher education development
              fund in forms of grant, loan, partial loan or gift.
           • Financial autonomy is the basis for financial management of higher education
              institutions that enjoys autonomy, flexibility, and accountability.

The role of higher education institutions (especially public higher education

institutions) in promoting the knowledge-based society and regional
economic development

The Thai government has put prime importance on creative economy, human capacity
building, producing of research outputs with value added and, utilization of local wisdom
since these are factors to fulfill social and economic development and knowledge-based
society to enhance national competitiveness. Thai higher education institutions both public
and private take their efforts in promoting knowledge-based society by trying to create new
body of knowledge and transfer to the community, strengthen R&D activities, promote
lifelong learning and utilize ICT in continuing education programme with expectations that
these could help to build knowledge-based society in our country.

Establishing and developing knowledge based and learning-based society is also one of the 3
main standards of Thai higher education published in the announcement of the Ministry of
Education on August 2006. The 3 main standards comprises of (a) Standard for the Quality
of Graduates, (b) Standard for Administration in Higher Education, (c) Standard for
Establishing and Developing Knowledge-Based and Learning-Based Society. All public
universities have been required to develop knowledge management system for research
and innovation and institution development for transformation into a learning organization.

National research universities
In October 2009, Ministry of Education by OHEC had selected 9 flagship public universities
to upgrade them as national research universities namely:
       1) Chulalongkorn University,
       2) Thammasat University,
       3) Mahidol University,
       4) Kasetsart University,
       5) King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi,
       6) Chiang Mai University,
       7) Khon Kaen University,
       8) Suranaree University of Technology, and
       9) Prince of Songkla University.
The 9 national research universities will be provided additional funding support by Thai
government to fulfill their research mission. The purpose of categorizing national research
universities is to uplift a group of Thai universities that have good records of research
capability, to produce research outputs and manpower in advanced fields of study that
could serve the community and national demands and real sectors, including enhance the
country’s competitiveness; create new body of knowledge and innovation that could
contribute to social and economic development, and improve the quality of life; as well as
to the promote the country to be a regional education centre.

Centres of excellence
In addition, Centres of Excellence is another initiative aimed at promoting the role of public
higher education institutions in strengthening R&D activities that helps enhancing the
country’s long-term economic competitiveness. The project has established postgraduate

academic consortium to become R&D centres of excellence with a view to strengthening
postgraduate education and research in cooperation with the industry and the private
sectors as a means to building a strong foundation for research and development in 9
priority science and technology areas.
These centres of excellence are
       1) Centre for Innovation in Chemistry
       2) Centre for Toxicology, Environmental Health, and management of Toxic
       3) Centre for Environmental and Hazardous Wasted Management
       4) Centre for Petroleum Petrochemicals, and Advanced Materials
       5) Centre for Energy Technology and Environment
       6) Centre for Agricultural Biotechnology
       7) Centre for Post Harvest Technology Innovation
       8) Centre for Mathematics
       9) Centre for Physics

Research and innovation for technology transfer to the rural community project
Apart from promoting advanced research development in science and technology, OHEC has
also implemented the Research and Innovation for Technology Transfer to the Rural
Communities Project since 2003. The project aims to encourage participation and foster
linkages between universities and the rural community in order to strengthen capacity of
the grass roots economy. At present, there are 8 networks established throughout the
country linking with OHEC as an administrative network for research for rural development
concept. Each network runs their research topics by collaborating with local communities or
stakeholders such as local governor or administration, leaders of local wisdom and farmers.
The research topic should be related to the strategies, problems or needs of the rural

University business incubator
University Business Incubator or “UBI” has been implemented to foster linkages between
university and industry as well as equip students with entrepreneurial skills. UBI is
categorized into key clusters targeted in the country’s development plan to ensure that the
project will make a significant contribution to the country’s economic competitiveness. The
project started in 2004 with an aim to set up UBI units in universities that have proofed to
have high potentials which could be further developed to become start-up companies with
joint ventures from the private sectors. Currently, UBI units have been established in 53
public universities and 3 private universities.

Thailand Cyber University
Thailand Cyber University or “TCU” was initiated in 2005 to extend educational
opportunities and to promote lifelong learning. Mission of TCU is to promote and support
dissemination of knowledge including advanced technology and local knowledge in the form
of non-formal e-learning. TCU has also served as knowledge and education centre by using
latest technologies to provide further education for all, for both formal and informal

At the moment, there are 550 online courses and 17 programmes of study delivered by
TCU; self-pack learning programme, certificate programmes, Bachelor’s degree programme
in Tourism Industry and Master’s degree programme in Social and Administrative
Pharmacy, and more than 80,000 students from different social groups enrolled in all the
online delivery courses. TCU has also created academic and research cooperation in
distance education via network system with 39 universities/organizations including its
overseas partners in Japan and the United States.

National policies on staffing, public funding and quality assurance

National policies on staff development

The staff development is one of the nine issues discussed in the Second 15-Year Long Range
Plan on Higher Education. It focuses on the new dimensions of staff development which
includes activities such as mentoring in teaching, learning and university management and
research capacity strengthening.

Although the universities are the main actors in the staff development, OHEC is operating
two staff development project as follows:
           a. Strategic Scholarships Fellowship Frontier Research Networks: Masters,
               Doctoral and Research Scholarships: The project aims at developing
               university staff and upgrading their qualifications in every discipline by
               providing masters, doctoral and research scholarship.
           b. Students and Staff Mobility: The project focuses on short-term students and
               staff exchange, credit transfer and mutual recognition of degrees. Currently,
               the OHEC are operating three short-term students and staff mobility
               programmes including:
                     (i) University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific (UMAP)
                     (ii) Students and Staff Exchange with GMS Countries
                     (iii) ASEM-DUO Fellowship Programme
In 2010, the OHEC in collaboration with Indonesian Ministry of National Education and
Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education launch a new project entitled Malaysian, Indonesian
and Thailand Student Exchange Programme (MIT). The project aims at fostering
harmonisation of higher education in three respective countries through the exchange of
the students. The first batch of MIT will start the exchange period in June 2010.

National policies on university financing
Similar to staff development, the university financing is discussed the Second 15-Year Long
Range Plan on Higher Education. According to the plan, universities are encouraged to
design a scheme to mobilize more financial support from stakeholders, such as the public
and students and parents as well as to generate income from products of universities such
as research and academic services.
The long range plan also calls for performance-based financing of universities while the
supply-side financing is still in place. Setting up of a contribution scheme with due regards
universities beneficiaries and benefactors and a university development fund scheme. While
an annual budget is used for normal operations, the development fund supports staff
development and facilitates universities to answer national socio-economic requisites such
as linkages with the real sectors including productivity improvement and retraining of labour

forces, development, management and commercialization of university intellectual
The plan suggested an establishment of a buffer organization between the state and
universities to engage universities on effective planning and operation such as university
strategic planning, budget development/funding advice/allocation, and academic
programme review Rapid economic development of past few decades led to proliferation of
large numbers of higher education institutes including universities to produce required
manpower. This has occurred with inadequate planning, lack of proper funding, cohesion
and direction among public agencies concerned and linkages with the real sector employing

National policies on quality assurance
Thailand has been through various stages of development to provide quality higher
education. OHEC has continued to play a key role in promoting quality assurance in both
public and private higher education institutions under the following policies:
          Develop QA system and mechanisms to maintain higher education institutions
          academic standards,
          Encourage higher education institution to develop its own indicators for internal
         quality assurance that fit institution mission and goals,
          Formulate guiding principles and directions for the startup of QA procedures, and
          Provide mechanisms for quality audits and assessment at the higher education
          institutions and faculty levels.

National Higher Education Standards
The significant movement of higher education standards took place in 2003 when the
Ministry of Education announced a new set of national higher education standards
specifying clearer quality and standard requirements. The standards are used for the
promotion, protection, ensuring, evaluating and assuring of quality of Thai higher education
and comprise three standards as follows:
          Standard 1: Desirable characteristics of Thai graduates as good Thai and global
          Standard 2: Education delivery mode, and
          Standard 3: Guidelines for the establishment of learning organization and
                      knowledge society.
Each standard is related to the national education standards so that it can fulfill the
purposes and principles of the national education administration programme. Furthermore,
OHEC has set other standards that are extended to cover other areas such as standard
criteria for higher education curriculum, standard criteria for student affairs, criteria for
submitting permission to offer and manage degree programme in distance education
system, and higher education qualifications framework. These standards will assist higher
education institutions in developing their academic and professional capacities and in
promoting international standards.

Quality assurance system

Thailand established full-fletch quality assurance system, according to the National
Education Reform scheme, Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment
(ONESQA) was established as a public organization to perform external quality assessment.
Whereas higher education institutions are responsible for conducting internal quality
assurance, which comprise quality control, quality audit, and quality assessment in the form
of self assessment report. OHEC serves as a coordinator with QNESQA by providing IQA
guidelines to higher education institutions, support for knowledge sharing, ensuring
effective communication flow, and follow up on further corrective actions of universities
after external assessment are completed. Furthermore, ONESQA will perform the 3rd cycle of
external quality assessment started in the year 2011 – 2015.

Accreditation and standards
Accreditation is applied at two levels namely institution accreditation and study programme
accreditation. University Council through the Academic Board is the body accountable
primarily for the approval of study programme. Pre-accreditation for public universities is
determined by OHEC, whereas for private universities post-accreditation is also carried out
by higher education standards committees appointed by OHEC.
At the moment, OHEC is in the process of establishing an accreditation system that can be
applied for both private and public higher education institutions. In the future, every higher
education institution will be accredited under the same standards which are divided into 1)
standards for potentiality and capability of higher education, and 2) standard for
implementation according to the mission of each higher education institution. As for
Standard of curriculum and delivering programme provided by all higher education
institutions will be subjected to the standard criteria set up by OHEC for each degree level.

Thai Qualifications Framework for Higher Education
OHEC has started to develop Thai Qualifications Framework for Higher Education (TQF: HE)
to be a device for the Thai universities to transform policies and put the Higher Education
Standards into practice since 2003. In July 2009, the Ministry of Education issued an
Announcement of Thai Qualifications Framework for Higher Education 2009 which aims at
assuring quality of graduates, credits, degrees and qualifications received from the
universities. Key concepts of the TQF: HE are to create better and common understanding to
the quality assurance system, it will take us toward the facilitation of mobility of faculty
members and students, as well as, adoption of common credit transfer system that will lead
to the regional mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications.

In this connection, OHEC has developed an implementation handbook described the
standards of learning outcomes to be achieved in each domain for each qualification;
conducted its pilot project in 8 disciplines, i.e., Science, Logistics, Biotechnology, Tourism
and Hotel Management, Computer, Nursing, Education, and Agro-Industry as well as trained
pioneer teams to be NQF trainers. What OHEC plans to do in the next stage is supporting
higher education institutions in using NQF to develop curriculum and improve the quality of
teaching and learning to ensure the graduates’ learning outcome. In part of TQF,
Professional and Organizational Development Network or ‘POD Network’ has been founded
to improve the quality of teaching by setting a mechanism for consultation and mutual

support, and dissemination of good ideas through workshops, conferences and other
mechanism for communication and assistance.

National policy/awareness of higher education harmonisation in Southeast

The Thai Government has tried to make sure that Thailand plays its full contribution to the
region’s peace and prosperity. As the country is a member of ASEAN, it is imperative that
Thai citizens are aware of ASEAN’s development towards the ASEAN Community in the year
2015 and take part in this important regional integration. Once the ASEAN Community is
realized, there will be greater mobility of students, teachers, academics, professionals and
labour force among ASEAN member countries and delivery of cross border education will be
on the rise within the region. Yet again, Thai youth deserves quality education which could
be recognized internationally and equipped with necessary skills required by the global

The ASEAN Education Ministers and the SEAMEO Council have reaffirmed the vital role of
education in the promotion of ASEAN identity and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. To
fulfill such goal, higher education has a major role to play in enhancing human resource
development in all sectors of the country through quality education, upgrading of skills and
capacities, and training. This is to ensure that ASEAN workforce will be suitably prepared,
and benefit from ASEAN economic integration. In addition, The Cha-Am Hua Hin Declaration
on Strengthening Cooperation on Educational to Achieve an ASEAN Caring and Sharing
Community adopted in October 2009 agreed to strengthen the role of ‘Education’ in the 3
ASEAN’s pillars: Role of Education Sector in Socio-Cultural; Economic; and Political and
In terms of the regional movement on higher education, Thailand and ASEAN member
countries now pay attention to learn from European experiences on implementing the
Bologna Process in order to support regional integration and higher education
harmonisation. European Credit Transfer System has become the model for member
economies of the University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific or UMAP to develop its UMAP
Credit Transfer Scheme or UCTS to foster exchange programme and harmonisation of
education system among member economies. ASEAN also learn lessons from the Bologna
Process in a joint endeavour to establish the ASEAN higher education area.
In the year 2009, OHEC, in cooperation with the European Union Delegation to Thailand,
had implemented the project on “Diversity and Regional Integration in Higher Education
Sector-Bologna Process, Qualification Framework and Credit Transfer: DIRECT”. The DIRECT
Project had been implemented from March to September 2009. The European Commission
had sent European expert as a consultant to work with a Thai working team. Activities
under DIRECT were the arrangement of workshops on National Qualifications Framework,
Subject Benchmarking and Credit Transfer, Degree Supplement, and Credit Accumulation. In
August 2009, the Thai working team visited universities and EU authorities on the
implementation of European higher education harmonisation in Belgium to study the
Bologna Process in practices.
Realising the importance of promoting harmonisation of higher education, OHEC is now in
the process of drafting the Thai higher education’s strategic plan for promoting ASEAN
higher education common space. Such strategic plan will target on production of quality

graduates with the goal of instilling ASEAN awareness and strong sense of belonging among
ASEAN youth, as well as, to enhance the closer academic collaboration among higher
education institutions in ASEAN member countries. The Strategic plan will incorporate
measures that will focus on maximal utilization of credit transfer and mutual recognition of
degree and qualifications. OHEC planned to work hands-in-hands with its strategic alliance:
the ASEAN University Network and SEAMEO RIHED which Thailand hosted the two
Apart from its own effort to achieve this prime regional agenda, OHEC has continuously
pledged its full support to SEAMEO RIHED’s initiative: A Framework for Regional Integration
in Higher Education in Southeast Asia: The Road towards a Common Space”, endorsed by
the SEAMEO Council at the 43rd SEAMEC Conference. The project aims at putting in place
regional processes for higher education development and policy harmonisation including
establishment of a common space in higher education in Southeast Asia.

Career path of higher education administrators/policy makers

In general, the University Council is responsible for the recruitment of university president
and nominated the selected person for His Majesty the King’s appointment. The criteria,
process, and qualification of university president is stipulated in each University Act.
The university president must have minimum qualifications of university degree together
with experience in teaching or serving University Council or equivalent. Some particular
universities, such as, Chulalongkorn University and National Institute for Development
Administration, the president must have doctoral degree or equivalent, or hold the position
of Professor, Special Professor, or had had experience as Dean of School for at least one
term. The required experience in teaching is varied from university to university. The term
of president is usually four years and can be extended for another one term consecutively.
University vice presidents will be appointed or withdrawn by the University Council
according to the president’s recommendation. The president has the authority to appoint
and withdraw the assistant presidents. The term of vice presidents and assistant presidents
is aligned with the term of the respective president.
The career path of higher education administrators is rather rigid and inconsistent. The
university administrators will refrain from their academic activities and concentrate on
university management during the appointment period. When the term of administration is
terminated, they will return to their teaching functions. On the other hand, career path of
faculty staff in term of their academic progress is foreseeable and achievable by means of
his or her merit and academic performance.
   •   The faculty staff who has master degree with five-year experience in teaching or
       doctoral degree with three-year experience in teaching and pass the evaluation
       according to the regulations stipulated in OHEC Announcement on Criteria and
       Process of Appointment and University Council’s rule, is qualified to be appointed as
       assistant professor.
   •   An assistant professor with three-year experience and pass the evaluation according
       to the regulations stipulated by Office of the Higher Education Commission’s
       Announcement on Criteria and Process of Appointment and University Council’s rule,
       is qualified to be appointed as associate professor.

•   An associate professor with two-year experience and pass the evaluation according
    to the regulations stipulated by OHEC Announcement on Criteria and Process of
    Appointment and University Council’s rule, is qualified to be appointed as professor.


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