World-class universities can contribute to society and can provide solutions by driving innovation, especially in the areas of rapid technological and social disruption. This series of ‘The Conversations’ explores university rankings, and the challenges and opportunities in driving the competitiveness of particularly Thai higher education institutions. The discussion reflects on what are the key qualities needed to achieve world-class status, and how top universities respond to local and global issues.
Watch full video here: https://www.facebook.com/BritishCouncilThailand/videos/273659303983965
The rankings can help to highlight strengths in those important areas and also opportunities for the future if, again, a university is aspiring to become world-class. They can understand how those kinds of collaborative partnerships are formed, how they grow, and which points they are strongest at.
Associate Professor Dr. Chayaporn Wattanasiri, President of Mae Fah Luang University
Excerpt from the discussion:
What are the key components for university rankings?
Elizabeth (Times Higher Education): There are 13 different metrics overall that are gathered on five separate pillars and these pillars look at data that surrounds the teaching, research, research citations, industry income and international outlook. So, the 13 different metrics that we look at are gathered by three different data sources and I think this shows the rigor, the depth of analysis that we can produce via the rankings. So, these 3 different data sources, the first come from the universities. The second source of data is the survey each year between 10,000-11,000 academics all around the world
This is a huge piece of social research that allows us to gauge the view of academics and finally, we look at the bibliometrics. And this is the data that looks at the scale and the scope and reach of research that is conducted by each of the universities that participate.
What are the main factors from your perspective that influencing the university’s focus?
Dr Chayaporn (Mae Fah Luang University): The mission of all the universities in Thailand is not only the practising of the basic four missions like teaching, research, academic services and engaging the conversations through arts and culture and the environment, but the universities should provide the entrepreneurial support and have to promote their applications of research and innovation. So, it’s very important assignment to every Thai university right now and also this is the right time for the demographic change into the time of aging society and also the challenge of the rapid technology.
In the other way round, many of the Thai universities are also entering the problem about the number of undergraduate students continues to decline university must looking for the needs to meet of the business and the industry and rethink about our educational system and research.
What a world-class university should be?
Dr Chayaporn: I think that it should be the place for technological and social solutions to contribute for global impact and changing the world. Right now, we are facing the disruption and so far the university’s first mission before being the world class, I think it's really necessary to be a leading university that can contribute to the well-being of the community that we are in the area.
Elizabeth: I think a strength of East Asian universities is their multilingual aspect, that English is not the only medium of instruction, but also with the opportunities to, for example, learn in languages just like Chinese which is an incredibly important language within the region and globally, and for these institutions in Singapore, we also see they are incredibly well-funded. They are, they perform incredibly well in the staff-income ratios in the research-income ratios. And of course, they obtain quite a lot of investment from their partners, and so we can see that they're incredibly well-embedded in those systems and their incredible strategy in the way in which they're growing their institutions.
How can students play a role in driving institutions’ competitiveness?
Elizabeth: THE focused far more on student outputs, student outcomes. And I think that is an incredibly important part of not only the assessment of the other university, but also to gauge the performance of the university to look at the outcomes of its graduates. I know that in the UK, there's been an incredibly important piece of research that is done every year that's now called “graduate outcomes” because of their experience of studying University and I think that talks at the previous questions of the value of going to study at a university, what that brings to a young person's life. So, I think it is an incredibly important, incredibly important piece of information, absolutely.
How does government provide support mechanism for the university rankings?
Dr Sirirurg (Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation): With the new “Reinventing University” initiative, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) has several mechanisms. For example, first, by providing help and facilities for inputting data and requirements required for the ranking systems. We also provide special finance to facilitate universities in the new activities. For example, for attracting best students for post-doctoral systems, foreign and international faculties to bringing the best Thai faculties into the systems. We also provide funds for programs such as seminars, new courses and utilization providing visibilities to our universities. Thirdly, we also align those activities with the programs, for example, sustainable development goals and also have Thai higher education systems that will align with those international ranking requirements.
About the Higher Education Partnership Programme and World-Class University Consortium Programme
Thai-UK Higher Education Partnerships (Thai-UK HEP) programme was developed in partnership with the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. The programme was designed in alignment with national policy to equip academic and staff at all levels to meet industry demands and enable internationalisation of the education environment.
In response to the government's strategy, the ‘Thai-UK World-Class University Consortium’ has been initiated by the British Council and the Office of the Permanent Secretary. This initiative will support Thailand’s ambition to reinvent universities towards becoming world-class and develop internationally recognised and connected higher education by supporting improvements of higher education system, focusing on shared challenges of quality, inclusion and internationalisation with the UK.
Thank you to our speakers joining the webinars
- Elizabeth Shepherd, Managing Director, Consultancy services, THE (Times Higher Education)
- Associate Professor Dr Chayaporn Wattanasiri, President of Mae Fah Luang University
- Professor Sirirurg Songsivilai, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation