Wednesday, January 09, 2008

AU aims to attract more foreign students


AU aims to attract more foreign students


Assumption University (AU), the oldest educational institution in Thailand that offers English programmes, is poised to become a truly international university targeting overseas students, according to its president, Reverend Brother Bancha Saenghiran. The university is currently regarded as an international institution with 2,188 foreign students or almost 11% of the 19,965 students enrolled in 2007 academic year. They were from around 70 countries, with the Chinese forming the largest group of around 900.

In terms of lecturers, the university has about 400 foreign lecturers from more than 30 countries, out of 1,257 lecturers.

''We emphasise the production of quality students and have differentiated ourselves by positioning ourselves to attract global markets and recruit students from around the world,'' said Brother Bancha.

Thailand has gradually attracted more foreign students due to its quality of education, competitive tuition fees and admirable cultural heritage. According to the Department of Export Promotion, around 20,000 foreign students were enrolled in the 2005 academic year at international schools and universities in the country, generating approximately 10 billion baht in revenue based on the estimated yearly expense of 500,000 baht per head.

Besides foreign students, there were more than 48,000 students in the 2005 academic year studying in international educational institutions in Thailand, indicating that the country could have saved billions of baht from parents who had chosen to enroll their children locally instead of sending them abroad.Despite AU's image as having expensive tuition fees, Brother Bancha maintains that the fees, starting from 1,600 baht a credit, are lower than at other universities in Thailand offering English programmes. The university teaches all programmes in English, which helps it achieve an economy of scale.

Assumption University has also expanded its worldwide reach by setting up the College of Internet Distance Education, which until last year was the only university in the world offering a doctorate degree using an e-learning platform. Universities in Thailand were allowed to offer e-learning programmes in October 2005.

Brother Bancha said the university now had around 300 students in its e-learning programmes under which embassies or allied educational institutions abroad are assigned as examination centres. The university plans to promote its e-learning programme more, as it provides a good opportunity for working people to further their studies.

Regarding the government's policy to promote Thailand as an education hub, Brother Bancha believes the government should first balance the issues of national security and education and facilitate visa-approval and immigration procedures to allow foreign lecturers to work more easily in the country.

The university recently opened a city campus on the 14th floor of CentralWorld, offering master's degrees and short courses to make it more convenient for students. Each year, it recruits 3,000 to 4,000 students.

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