1st Edition

A Critical Study of Thailand’s Higher Education Reforms The culture of borrowing

By Rattana Lao Copyright 2015
    210 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    230 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers a critical examination of contemporary higher education reforms in Thailand situated in the broader historical, socio-economic and political changes. Through a qualitative case study with three methods of inquiry, this book explores why different 'global education policies' such quasi-privatisation, internationalization, as quality assessment (QA) have resonated in Thailand higher education sector. Grounded in policy borrowing and lending, this book uses the politics, economics and culture of borrowing to analyse major reforms in Thailand for the past one hundred years. It is argued that historical legacy, policy contexts and belief systems of policy elites play pivotal roles in facilitating policy changes or the lack thereof. While historical analysis elucidates that the Thai state has always been an active borrower of western ideas, the perseverance of the 'Thai-ness' discourse has often been used to suggest its so-called independence and idiosyncrasy. This in-depth analysis of the Thai case aims to contribute to the critical studies in Asian education, comparative higher education, policy borrowing and lending and Thai studies. The Culture of Borrowing intensively studies the policy appropriation in the Thai education system by analysing:

    •      Selective Borrowing and the Historical Development of Thai Higher Education

    •      The Asian Economic Crisis as Window of Opportunity: Autonomous University

    •     Internationalization of Teaching: Quantitative and Qualitative Challenges

    •      The Emergence of Quality Policies and their Rationales

    •      The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Quality Policies

    This book will appeal to researchers in Education, particularly to scholars studying educational policies within the context of tertiary education. It will also interest scholars specialising in Asian and South-east Asian Studies.

    1. Globalization of Higher Education Policy  2. Selective Borrowing and the Historical Development of Thai Higher Education  3. The Changing Role of the Thai State and Higher Education Administration  4. The Asian Economic Crisis as Window of Opportunity: Autonomous University  5. Internationalization of Teaching: Quantitative and Qualitative Challenges  6. The Politics of International Ranking and Thailand Research Landscape  7. The Emergence of Quality Policies and their Rationales  8. The Global-Local Nexus of Quality Policies: The Case of ONESQA  9. The Intended and Unintended Consquences of Quality Policies  10. The Culture of Borrowing and Thailand Reform Fatigue


    Rattana Lao received a doctorate in Comparative and International Education (Political Science) from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a lecturer at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University.

    "Given the huge gap in the literature on Thai higher education and its reform, this new volume by the Thai scholar, Dr. Rattana Lao, makes a major contribution to both the fields of comparative higher education and Thai Studies. The book is based on rigorous well triangulated interdisciplinary research. It provides valuable insight and understanding into the nature of Thailand’s major higher education reform and related quality assurance innovation and how those policies have been influenced by powerful external global forces." Gerald W. Fry, Distinguished International Professor, Department of Organizational Development, Policy, and Development, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

    Although it focuses on the education sector, the book could be described as an exploration of Thailand’s political, economic and cultural relationship with the West. In [the author's] own words, it ‘offers the possibility of using the field of education as a site to theorize the logic and structure of the Thai state’ (p. 188). ... The final chapter in particular generates themes that are pertinent to current debates internationally, such as the impact of marketization on the quality of education. It would be helpful to see what alternative theoretical attacks on the subject might produce. How might a sociological line of investigation be relevant here? How can theories of education as reproduction of power (Bourdieau, 1990) and academic capitalism (Slaughter and Leslie, 1997) be used to better understand the interplay between education and power in Thailand? And what do alternative theoretical perspectives on the nature of the state and Thai politics suggest? This book has certainly opened up a space to have these types of interdisciplinary conversations. -- Elisa Brewis, UCL Institute of Education, University of London in ASEASUK News 58 (2015)

    "This book has the potential to begin a more candid conversation about the past, present, and future of Thai higher education policy. The case study research methodology is an effective way of contributing to knowledge in this area, and one hopes this book spurs on more empirical research. ... Still, despite Lao's admission that this book is not exhaustive, it is by far the most comprehensive understanding of Thai higher education in English print today, and its contribution to knowledge will have significant implications for understanding the future role of Thai higher education in the politics, economics, and culture of Thailand." -- Oliver S. Crocco, George Washington University, in Journal of International and Comparative Education, 2016, Volume 5, Issue 1

     "Considering that there is very little English literature on reform in Thailand’s higher education system, this book can be rated as one of the most comprehensive commentaries on the subject. The major strength of this book lies in its detailed historical account of the Thai higher education system. The book picks up key policy innovations and attempts to rationalize the policy reforms by integrating national, regional and global contexts into its main theoretical premise of policy borrowing. The book is strengthened by the author’s access to key policymakers and leading technocrats whos accounts and opinions regarding the development of higher education are informative and reliable sources of information. " - Nopraenue Sajjarax Dhirathity, Mahidol University, The Journal of Southeast Asian Economies,, Vol. 33, no. 2 (Aug 2016) (Singapore: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, 2016)