Ian Hall, Advance HE’s Head of International Membership, records some of the highlights of his recent visit to partner organisations in Thailand.
Advance HE has been working on teaching development and recognition projects with partners in Thailand over the last five years. My visit to meet with our member institutions and the Office for the Higher Education Commission (OHEC) allowed me to see first hand some of the excellent work being done on teaching and to understand the drivers and challenges in the Thai sector.
The Thai Higher Education sector, like many across the world, is facing challenges from a demographic and purpose perspective. This was outlined by Deputy Minister Udom during the OHEC conference in March. Specifically, in contrast to the UK, there is a reduction to the number of 18-25 year olds in Thailand, so traditional student numbers are decreasing. There is therefore a need for universities to diversify to offer programmes for mature students, or to recruit more students from overseas. The government and employers are also keen to ensure that graduates are sufficiently prepared to meet the needs of the Thailand 4.0 national strategy, to support their drive for an innovative, value based economy. During my workshop at the conference I posited that developing and recognising teachers was core to this goal, as teachers need the skills and confidence to refresh their curricula so that their students are prepared to meet global, wicked challenges in the workplace.
King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi
I was delighted to visit the campuses of all five Advance HE member institutions in Thailand – Suraranaree University of Technology, Walailak University, Srinakharinwirot University, Sukothai Thammathirat Open University, and King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi. The five institutions are diverse, varying from large city universities to beautiful expansive rural campuses, and a distance learning university whose alumni include the King of Thailand. All of the universities are committed to staff development and are keen to recognise their staff against international standards; the PSF and Fellowship has therefore been fundamental in our partnerships.
I’m delighted to say that there has been some excellent outcomes and impact from this work – to date there are nearly 100 Fellows in Thailand, and we expect Thailand to be one of the top ten countries with HEA Fellows during the next year.
More importantly, our projects are having a direct impact on teaching and student learning, and I saw evidence of new techniques such as game based learning being rolled out by staff, which had positive impact on student engagement.
Suranaree University of Technology
Our work in Thailand has also included delivery of a national teaching programme with attendees from over 20 institutions across the country. The staff taking part in this programme were leaders of teaching, and are currently in the process of applying for Senior Fellowship.
Office of the Higher Education Commission
I look forward to further partnerships being developed in Thailand, and to supporting collaboration both between Thai institutions and to a wider network of institutions across the world.
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