The Open University as a route to higher education expansion in developing countries : the case of Ramkhamhaeng University, Thailand
The most recent development in the worldwide expansion of higher education is the move to open universities since they are less expensive for Governments than traditional universities and because they give the opportunity to expand and extend university education to a wider range of people. The main focus of this thesis is one such open university, Ramkhamhaeng University in Thailand, which .has adopted a system of operation part-way between traditional and open university techniques. Ramkhamhaeng is an open admissions university, taking in all secondary school graduates who wish to enrol together with other people who have appropriate qualifications. There is, as yet, no restriction on the number of students who enrol. The university offers traditional lectures for those who wish to attend on campus together with specially-written textbooks and media programmes for those who learn at a distance. This enables students to work and study hence reducing financial pressures. My research indicates that, unlike attempts in the ''extern countries to extend access, Ramkhamhaeng has been relatively successful; students come from a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds than traditional Thai university students. Although there is as yet a relatively low graduation rate, the graduates too come from a wider spectrum of the population. Furthermore, unlike British Open University techniques, Ramkhamhaen.7's techniques are successful with new secondary school leavers also. despite initial scepticism of Ramkhomhaeng: 'standards,' the university'- graduates have become accepted as equal to graduates of the other universities and despite the relatively large number of graduates, no serious graduate unemployment problems have arisen; nor has the high enrolment caused political problems. The Thai Government has seen fit to open a second oven university to cater more particularly for mature students learning at a distance since Ramkhamhaeng has not been particularly successful in this area.