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Engineering & Technology Education in
The first university in Thailand, namely Chulalongkorn
University, was established over 80 years ago. Later on, more
universities were founded, each specializing in a specific
field: Thammasat University in social sciences (law, political
science, liberal arts), Silpakorn University in Fine Arts,
Kasetsart University in agriculture, and the University of
Medical Sciences (now Mahidol University). This has been the
case until the 1960s, when new comprehensive universities
were founded: Chiengmai University, Khonkhaen University,
and Prince of Songkhla University. During the same period,
the traditional one-field universities began to expand to
offer degrees in other fields. Also in that same decade, three
technical colleges at Thonburi, North Bangkok and Ladkrabang
were merged into one, and upgraded to a higher educational
institute, the King Mongkut's Institute of Technology.
In the 1960s there were eight public universities
offering baccalaureate engineering programs. Then in the 1980s,
the shortage of engineers was so acute that other universities
began programs in engineering and technology, new public universities
were set up, and several private colleges were upgraded to
universities. In addition to institutions under the Ministry
of University Affairs (MoUA), technical colleges were combined
as Rajamangala Institute of Technology, and teacher training
colleges were combined as Rajabhat Institute, both of which
offer baccalaureate programs.
In the 1990s there was a movement of establishing
the so-called international programs, in which English is
used as the medium of instruction. There was also a wave of
establishing 'special programs' in engineering, providing
classes outside the traditional hours to boost the number
of engineering graduates.
Currently there are about 20 public universities
and 33 private universities under the MoUA. Some public universities
have set up self-supporting semi-autonomous units, such as
Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT) of
Thammasat University, and Sasin of Chulalongkorn University.
Due to the economic crisis of 1997-98, in order to improve
the efficiency of the public sector, the government has set
up a policy to move public universities out of the bureaucratic
system. The majority of budget is still supported by the government,
but in the form of block grant, not as line-item budget, as
is currently the case. University employees will no longer
be government officials. Consequently the form of benefits
will change, and dismissal of non-performing employees (including
faculty members) will be easier. Therefore, employees must
be more accountable, and eventually the higher educational
system will improve. In return, employees will receive a higher
General Structure of Bachelor Degree Programs
MoUA limits the number of total credits of all
bachelor degree programs to between 120 and 150. Bachelor
degree programs in engineering and related technology generally
contain between 140-150 credits, which are normally spread
over eight semesters or four academic years. MoUA also specifies
a minimum of 30 credits for general studies, including physical
science, mathematics, English language, social science and
humanities, and six credits of free electives.
The Engineering Profession Control Committee,
which issues practicing licenses for civil, electrical, industrial,
mechanical and mining engineers, requires at least 39 credits
of compulsory engineering subjects for each of the engineering
disciplines. Practicing licenses are not required for other
engineering disciplines, such as computer or environmental
There are three approaches to bachelor degree
engineering education. The first approach puts all the first-year
students together to take common studies, and then separates
them into various disciplines from the second year onwards.
The second approach separates students into disciplines as
soon as they are admitted to their first year. The third approach
takes vocational students who possess a higher diploma in
vocational education, which puts them into appropriate disciplines.
Appropriate subjects from their vocational education may be
International programs should have the following
a) The medium of instruction is one of the international languages,
such as English;
b) Admission procedures permit candidates who complete secondary
schools in various countries to apply for selection;
c) Several nationalities are included as members of teaching
With the above guidelines, only a few institutes
in Thailand, such as Sirindhorn International Institute of
Technology of Thammasat University, Assumption University
(ABAC), and Asian University of Science and Technology (AUST),
offer international bachelor degree programs in engineering
and related technology. It should, however, be noted that
several institutions offer engineering programs taught in
English, but where the other criteria are not met. Therefore,
they merely offer 'English' programs, not 'international'
There are two streams of postgraduate programs,
namely taught-course and research-oriented programs.
Taught Course Programs
Masters degree programs, MEng or MSc (Tech)
contain from 36-42 credits. 6-12 credits are required for
the thesis, and the rest of the credits are for the taught
The Doctoral degree program, DEng or DSc (Tech)
covers from 48-54 credits after the masters degree. At least
36 credits are specified for the thesis, and the rest of the
credits belong to taught courses.
Masters Degree Programs, MPhil, require at least
36 credits of thesis. Students may be asked to attend taught
courses, which will not be graded.
Doctoral degree programs, PhD, require at least
48 credits of thesis after the masters degree. Students may
also be required to take taught courses, which will not be
In Thai public universities, educational quality
assurance has not been an agenda until recently. The reason
being that public universities are fully supported by the
government, and that they enjoy the high quality of intake
students; consequently, little has been done to ensure the
quality of the teaching/learning. This will soon change, as
the MoUA has initiated a quality assessment program.
Prida Wibulswas &
Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology
Thammasat University at Rangsit