'Reinventing' Thai Universities: Ajarn, Thailand 4.0 & Cross - Cultural Communication Implications for International Academia.

Main Article Content

Michael James Day
Sara Du Preez
Dylan Scott Low
Merisa Skulsuthavong


Thai higher education (Thai HE) is changing. Thailand 4.0, a socioeconomic and educational development policy of the Thai Government, wants universities to ‘reinvent’ themselves into the world’s top-100 and so draw closer to international ideas of quality assurance, research, impact and teaching. This has, for example, led to a radical proposed revolution in mid-2020 for Thailand’s academic ranking system, one that is both unexpected and unprepared for. Therefore, using a literature review, alongside policy analysis, we describe publicly available information on Thai academic systems and question the forthcoming proposed changes against the pre-existing systems for academic progression. Through this, we debate the academic expectations and traditions in Thai HE. These are unique, a reflection of a country that prides itself as never having been colonised, yet favouring the borrowing, rejecting and reinterpretation of other academic systems. We propose consideration of the cross-cultural communication implications for Thai HE is needed, as it seeks to move towards an international setting. Then, we conclude that critical restructuring of academic ranks would create a more progressive educational policy, in line with international ideas of academia. Meanwhile, it raises further implications for cross-cultural collaboration, as well as communication, which has the potential for a lucrative knowledge exchange between institutes of learning in western higher education and Thailand.

Article Details



American Psychological Association (APA). (2017). Psychology faculty salaries for the 2016-2017 academic year: Results from the 2017 CUPA-HR survey for four-year colleges and universities. https://www.apa.org/workforce/publications/17-faculty-salary
Assumption University (Assumption). (2012). Faculty manual 7th Edition 2012. http://www.ohrm.au.edu/new%20update%20paper/regulation/reg_09/FacultyManual2012.pdf
Baker, C. (2019, August 14). Buddhism and authority in Thailand in the long run. New Mandala. https://www.newmandala.org/buddhism-and-authority/
Baker, C., & Phongpaichit, P. (2009). A History of Thailand. Cambridge University Press.
Bangkok Post. (2018, January 16). Education Ministry blasts universities as sub-par. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1396350
Bangkok Post. (2020, April 16). From Yesterday to Tomorrow: Reinventing Education in Thailand. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1900415
Bourdieu, P. (2005). The social structures of the economy. Polity.
Bovornsiri, V., & Fry, G. (1980). Vocational-technical education and the Thai labor market. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning.
Bovornsiri, V., Uampuang, P., & Fry, G. (1996). Cultural influences on higher education in Thailand. In Kepner, K., Tierney, W. (Eds), The social role of higher education: Comparative perspectives. Routledge.
Buasuwan, P. (2018). Rethinking Thai higher education for Thailand 4.0. Asian Education and Development Studies, 7(2), 157-173.
Chaitrong, W. (2019, January 16). World Bank urges Thailand to urgently tackle education inequality. The Nation. https://www.nationthailand.com/business/30362395
Charuvastra, T., & Ruiz, T. (2015, December 9). Data contradicts New York Times on crime increase under junta. Khaosod English. https://www.khaosodenglish.com/news/crimecourtscalamity/2015/12/09/1449660405/
Clance, R., & Imes, S. A. (1978). The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 15(3), 241-247.
Day, M.J. (2019). Teaching the Web: Towards principles for Web education. [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Southampton.
Day, M.J., & Skulsuthavong, M. (2019). Web Science in SE Asia: Cultivating a ‘Thai Digital Renaissance’ through (Re)introducing an interdisciplinary science in higher education. Proceedings of the 2019 ANPOR Annual Conference: Power of Public Opinion and Multicultural Communication toward Global Transformation (pp. 114-131). Asian Network for Public Opinion Research.
Draper, J., & Kamnuansilpa, P. (2018, February 19). Thai universities in drastic decline. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1414267/thai-universities-in-drastic-decline
Evans, L. (2016). The purpose of professors: Professionalism, pressures and performance. Leeds, UK: Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. The University of Leeds.
Flaherty, C. (2016, December 1). Forgotten chairs. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/12/01/new-study-suggests-training-department-chairs-woefully-inadequate-most-institutions
Flaherty, C. (2018, April 11). Faculty salaries up 3%. In Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/04/11/aaups-annual-report-faculty-compensation-takes-salary-compression-and-more#.XnxqaQIC10A.link
Fry, G. (2002). Evolution of education reform in Thailand. Second International Forum on Education Reform. ONEC.
Fuller, T. (2015, November 29). Thai economy and spirits are sagging. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/30/world/asia/thailand-economy-tourism.html
George, P. (1987). University teaching across cultures: University teaching across cultures: Lessons from U. S. Fulbrighters in Southeast Asia and their colleagues in Thailand. United States Information Service.
Hazel, S. (2016, February 11). Why native English speakers fail to be understood – and lose out in global business. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/why-native-english-speakers-fail-to-be-understood-in-english-and-lose-out-in-global-business-54436
Ivtzan, I. (2008). Self actualisation: For individualistic cultures only? International Journal on Humanistic Ideology, 1(2), 111-138.
Jones, C., & Pimdee, P. (2017). Innovative ideas: Thailand 4.0 and the fourth industrial revolution. Asian International Journal of Social Sciences, 17(1), 4-35.
Joungtrakul, J. (2019). Thai higher education in crisis: Lay off of university staff on the way. Journal of Business Administration and Social Sciences, 2(1), 1-16.
Kamnuansilpa, P. (2018, September 20). The existential threat to Thai universities. The Nation. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30354844
Kanjananiyot, P., Singhadechakul, C., & Vorathanyakij, V. (2002). Thai higher education in brief. Ministry of University Affairs.
Khang, D. B., & Sandmaung, M. (2013). Quality expectation in Thai higher education institutions: Multiple stakeholder perspectives. Quality Assurance in Education, 21(3), 260-281.
Lao, R. (2015). A critical study of Thailand's higher education reforms: The culture of borrowing. Routledge Studies in Asian Education.
Laungaramsri, P. (2016). Mass surveillance and the militarization of cyberspace in post-coup Thailand. ASEAS Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 9(2), 195-214.
Lin, L., Stamm, K., & Christidis, P. (2017). How much do psychologists earn at each career stage? APA Centre for Workforce Studies, 48(11). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/12/datapoint
Mahidol University. (2013). Human resources division handbook for international employees of Mahidol University. https://mahidol.ac.th/temp/2017/12/handbookemployee.pdf
Mahidol University. (2017). Criteria and procedure for academic ranking. https://mahidol.ac.th/temp/2017/12/finalize-academic.pdf
Mala, D. (2018, February 8). Thai university rankings plummet, The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1409306/thai-university-rankings-plummet
Mala, D. (2019a, January 4). Thai universities struggle to keep up, The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1604990/thai-unis-struggle-to-keep-up
Mala, D. (2019b, July 21). Education minister urges universities to change with the times, The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1716063/
MHESI. (2017). History of science in Thailand. Ministry of Science and Technology.
MOE. (1998). History of Thai education. Ministry of Education.
MOE. (2003). Private institute of higher education act 2003. http://web.krisdika.go.th/data/outsitedata/outsite21/file/PRIVATE_INSTITUTION_OF_HIGHER_EDUCATION_ACT,_B.E._2546_(2003).pdf
Mounier, A., & Tangchuang, P. (2010). Education and knowledge in Thailand: The quality controversy. Silkworm Books.
MUA. (2000). Thai higher education in brief. Ministry of University Affairs.
OECD. (2016). Education in Thailand: AN OECD-UNESCO Perspective, Reviews of National Policies for Education. OECD Publishing.
OECD. (2019). Combined executive summaries: Programme for international student Assessment (PISA) for 2018. OECD Publishing.
OCSC. (2019). Prakat Ko. Pho. O. Rueang Lakken Lae Withikan Pramoen Khunnasombat Lae Phonngan Thang Wichakan Phuea Hai Phu Damrong Tamnaeng Sattrachan Dairap Ngoen Pracham Tamnaeng Sung Khuen Pho. So. 2561, Office of the Civil Services Commission. http://www.basd.mua.go.th/Page/Announcement_All.aspx
OCSC. (2020). Notification of the Office of the Civil Service Commission and Attachment of the Office of the Civil Service Commission regarding Rules and Procedures for Appointing Person to be an Assistant Professor Associate Professor And Professor. http://www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th/DATA/PDF/2563/E/147/T_0020.PDF
OHEC. (2014). Manual for the internal quality assurance for higher education institutions 2014. Office of Higher Education Commission (OHEC). http://www.mua.go.th/users/bhes/bhes2/56-12-27%20Manual%20for%20the%20Internal%20Final.pdf
OHEC. (2015). Ken Mattrathan Laksut Radap Udomsueksa Pho. So. 2558 Lae Ken Mattrathan Thi Kiaokhong. Office of Higher Education Commission. http://cid.buu.ac.th/standard/Standard%20Curr-2558-Book.pdf
Panich, W. (2012). A path to create learning for students in the 21st century. Sodsri Salitwongse Foundation.
Pawawimol, O. (2017). Directions and policies of Thai higher education in driving forward the nation. Presentation Speech to Naresuan University. OHEC.
Payne, B. (2013). White-collar crime: The essentials. SAGE.
Persons, L. (2008). The anatomy of Thai face. Manusya Journal of Humanities, 1(1), 53-75.
Phothongsunan, S. (2018). EFL university teachers’ professional development in the Thai context. Arab World English Journal, 9(2), 283-297.
Power, J. B. (2015). An investigation into the factors affecting student creativity in higher education in Thailand. Thammasat Review, 18(1), 177-198.
Prince of Songkla University. (2009). Handbook for foreign employees of Prince of Songkla University. https://en.psu.ac.th/download/Handbook-for-Foreign-Staff.pdf
QS/QS Top Universities. (2020a). World university rankings. https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2020
QS/QS Top Universities. (2020b). Top universities country guides: study in Thailand. https://www.topuniversities.com/universities/mahidol-university
Rangsivek, K. (2017). The authoritarian personality in Thailand. 13th International Conference on Thai Studies, Globalised Thailand? Connectivity, Conflict and Conundrums of Thai Studies, Chiang Mai, Thailand (pp. 1341-1357). Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development.
Rattananuntapat, M. (2015). Quality assurance policies in Thai higher education. [EdD Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/26482/1/Rattananuntapat_etd2015.pdf
Reinero, D. A. (2019, October 23). The path to professorship by the numbers and why mentorship matters. Behavioural and Social Sciences. https://socialsciences.nature.com/users/325112-diego-a-reinero
Royal Thai Embassy Washington DC. (2015). Thailand 4.0. https://thaiembdc.org/thailand-4-0-2/
Royal Thai Government. (2020). Volume 137, Special Section 147 D, Government Gazette, 23 June 2020
Sakulku, J. (2011). The impostor phenomenon. The Journal of Behavioral Science, 6(1), 75-97.
Sasiwongsaroj, K., & Burasit, Y. (2019). Managing Thailand’s ageing population. Perspective. 2019(32), 1-15.
Segaller, D. (2005). Thai ways. Silkworm Books.
Sinlarat, P. (2000). Higher education in Thailand: Critical perspectives. Textbook and Academic Document Center, Chulalongkorn University.
Sinlarat, P. (2004). Thai universities: Past, present and future. In G. Altbach & T. Umakoshi (Eds), Asian universities: Historical perspectives and contemporary challenges. John Hopkins University Press.
Sridokkham, A. (2017, April 9). Four arrested in fake education degrees scam. The Nation. https://www.nationthailand.com/national/30311832
Tangchuang, P. (2002). Satisfactions of Chiang Mai University graduates as perceived by users. A research presented to Chiang Mai University. Chiang Mai University.
Tangchuang, P. (2003). Some contradictory evidences of the knowledge based economy in Thailand. Chiang Mai University, CELS.
The Economist. (2017, November 16). Thailand 4.0: In sight, but not in reach. The Economist. http://www.eiu.com/industry/article/786131662/thailand-40-in-sight-but-not-in-reach/2017-11-16
The Nation. (2018a, May 23). Senior educators oppose merger of Ohec with Science and Tech Ministry. The Nation. https://www.nationthailand.com/national/30346134
The Nation. (2018b, September 26). Thai universities drop in world rankings. The Nation. https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30355280
Theparat, C. (2019, November 7). New ministry takes on human factor. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1789159/new-ministry-takes-on-human-factor
Thongnoi, J. (2019, October 20). As Chinese students flock to Thai universities, some are in for a hard lesson. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmcom/week-asia/people/article/3033605/chinese-students-flock-thai-universities-some-are-hard-lesson
TNSO. (2016). The labor force survey whole kingdom quarter July-September 2016. National Statistical Office. http://web.nso.go.th/en/survey/lfs/lfs16_q3.htm
Tun-atiruj, C. (2020, March 24). The plight of migrant workers: jobless, homeless, branded selfish and irresponsible. Thisrupt. https://thisrupt.co/current-affairs/the-plight-of-migrant-workers-covid19
Uthai, D. (2003). Dialogue on university competencies in Thai. San Patirup Journal, 6(1), 64.
Wangkiat, P. (2019, November 20). Jobless graduates a wake-up call. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1798059/jobless-graduates-a-wake-up-call
Wiwut, T. (2000). Strategy for upgrading quality of made-in-Thailand Doctoral Graduates in Science and Technology. Conference on Educational and Doctoral Research Strategy. Thai Research Fund.
World Bank. (1998). Thailand: Educational achievements, issues and policies. World Bank.
Wyatt, B., & Promkandorn, S. (2012). A discourse analysis of the Thai experience of 'being krengjai’. Intercultural Pragmatics. 9(1), 361-383.
Wyllie, J. (2018, February 5). How much do professors work? One researcher is trying to find out. The Chronicle of Higher Education. https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Much-Do-Professors-Work-/242444
Yongcharoenchai, C. (2017, January 29). Fake it till you ace it. The Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/special-reports/1188857/fake-it-till-you-ace-it
Yuthavong, Y., Sripaipan, C., Kirtikara, K., Glankwamdee, A., & Trakulku K. (1985). Key problems in science and technology in Thailand. Science, 227(4690), 1007-1011.