Thai private universities push for campuses in CLMV

Private Thai universities are calling on the Education Ministry to ease regulations and let them operate freely abroad, especially in neighbouring countries.

Saowanee Thairungroj, president of the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions of Thailand (APHEIT), said the ministry should help Thai universities expand their campuses to CLMV countries — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam — since enrolment was falling locally.

Ms Saowanee, who is also rector of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, was speaking after a meeting with Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan yesterday.

She said many private Thai universities are expanding into Mekong countries to escape expected financial losses due to fierce competitive pressure in the domestic market.

“Enrolment in private universities has dropped in recent years due to Thailand’s demographic changes,” she said.

But the universities are struggling with regulations set by the ministry. For example, students in Myanmar spend 11 years in general education, compared with 12 years in Thailand. So if Myanmar students want to study at Thai universities, they must pass the American GED test first because the Education Ministry in Thailand stipulates the rule, the APHEIT president said.

“The ministry should ease its regulations and provide us with some support instead of trying to stop us operating freely outside Thailand, which doesn’t make sense. This is just one of many problems we’re facing with nonsense regulations,” Ms Saowanee said.

She said Thai universities now stand a good chance of offering higher education in CLMV countries as their governments have been inviting foreign universities to run educational programmes to catch up with international standards.

“There is strong demand for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, especially MBA programmes, in CLMV countries now as the region’s economies have shown rapid growth in recent years,” she said.

Ms Saowanee said Thai products and services, including educational services, are popular among CLMV countries as they are considered high quality and affordable.

If the ministry does not change the rule, CLMV students may choose to study with Thailand’s rivals such as Malaysian universities instead, she said.

Two private Thai universities already have a presence abroad. UTCC has set up Myanmar campuses in Yangon and Mandalay under the two-year Global MBA programme, while Siam University has branches in Myanmar and Nepal.

Source: Bangkok Post

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