Internationalising Thai higher education : examining policy implementation
This thesis examines the implementation of the policy of internationalising higher education in Thailand during a period marked by global and national liberalisation and by transition and reform. The main research question is: to what extent has the Thai state's policy of internationalising higher education been implemented? The thesis reviews two main bodies of literature to answer this question, examining them in the Thai context. First, studies of the internationalisation of higher education are reviewed in order to provide the background to current debates and to frame a set of ideal goals for the internationalisation of higher education in Thailand. Second, studies on the higher education system and the policy implementation process are used to investigate the Thai higher education system's policy implementation process. The thesis centres on two main case studies reflecting the two primary functions of universities: teaching and research. The first study relates to the teaching of commercial and business administration courses in international programmes. The second study relates specifically to internationalised scientific research. The thesis argues that Thai higher education is in a dilemma: it must implement successful internationalisation and reform its structure and social values, particularly in order to accommodate new ideas driven by market forces. Yet, it is prevented because the bureaucratic structure and values of the 'state authority' and the public universities prevail, while the market pressurises each institution and individual to pursue their self-interests. As a result, qualitative internationalisation is difficult to put into practice. The original contribution of this thesis is not only the empirical data gathered during intensive fieldwork, but also an attempt to analyse the internationalisation of Thai higher education by examining the country's higher education system and its policy implementation process. Previous studies on the internationalisation of higher education have mostly focused on the developed world, and those focusing on developing countries have not particularly considered the problems related to national higher education systems and policy implementation processes. This study not only considers the duties and functions of particular universities; it also places the internationalisation of the Thai higher education system in its macro-political and socio-economic context, and thus is able to explore and explain the fundamental problems affecting the policy implementation process.