Equity in Thai private institutions of higher education
This research aims to investigate the policies, administrative plans and strategies taken by eight leading Thai private institutions of higher education to develop equality of educational opportunity for economically disadvantaged college-age people. It also probes into the viewpoints of students, as the real users of higher education, on the ethics of markets in education as well as the possibility of the development of equity in a private university in Thailand. In addition, it explores students' attitudes towards equity in private higher education, socio-economically disadvantaged students and student aid schemes provided by the eight focus institutions. In this study, the researcher applied a mixed-methods approach to elicit data from a range of sources: the government, the eight focus universities and students. The staff participants are university administrators and officers (ten of them in total, at least one and sometimes two from each focus institution) in charge of student grants and loans. Student participants are divided into two groups: the control group and the focus group. The control group consists of on average 174 students who are non-takers of loans and grants from each institution (1,390 in total). The focus group is composed of on average 203 students who are loan and grant takers from each university (1,626 in total). In the research, all student participants were asked to fill in the questionnaire on students' attitudes towards Thai private higher education, designed by the researcher. Face-to-face interviews were also conducted with 35 students from all the focus institutions (four or five from each university). The research findings reveal that it is possible for the eight focus institutions to develop equality of educational opportunity through the application of a variety of student aid programmes, focusing on loans. In this study, it turns out that a student loan programme tends to be able to assist economically disadvantaged students on a larger scale than can a grant or a scholarship scheme. These results are hoped to serve as a guideline for the promotion of equality of educational opportunity, the establishment and improvement of future student aid schemes, as well as the creation and development of a more equitable system in Thai higher education.