In January, Thailand was the second country globally to be impacted by COVID-19 outbreak. The nation went in the lock down by March and today, the country is in a much better position and regulations are more relaxed.
The impact of COVID-19 can be felt across all sectors, including the higher education institutions where lockdowns and social distancing meat that universities can no longer run classes and face to face interaction couldn’t happen.
During the outbreak, the former Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) has been very active in working with Thai higher education on strategies to respond to COVID-19. Jobs creation programme was initiated where 10,000 jobs will be made available at research institutions and science agencies, and over 3,000 million baht from MHESI was allocated to COVID-19 response including research funding and upskilling and reskilling schemes.
Whilst there are on-going plans to support higher education institutions, many new ways of teaching and learning are taking place. As Dr Suvit mentioned in his article, it’s not only the technology that is the cause of a disruption, but how risks and threats such as this pandemic creates reforms and new behaviour changes.
We will hear from Dr Suvit of the Ministry’s role in tackling this great transformation, the key factors to drive Thailand forward, the future of international collaboration, and how important it is for the government, during COVID-19 crisis, to support innovation in research and technology that serve the public.
Summary of the key points
- From the video, we have heard inspiring reflections, ideas and plans which explore the priorities, challenges and opportunities for Thailand’s higher education and research post Covid-19 and the future of international collaboration between Thailand and the UK.
- The future of international collaboration is highlighted by the former Minister through the importance of working hand in hand under the Quadruple Helix approach, with at least 4 major partners including universities, the private sector, the civil society and the global collaborative network.
- The crisis reveals some opportunities. The country can no longer place its focus on just R, D and I, but we must extend the value chain into R, D, I and M (Research, Development, Innovation and Manufacturing) to bridge the gap between academic research and the industrial sphere. In addition, human capital development is crucial. At least 4 literacies are being introduced comprising of English, Digital, Financial, and Social literacy to produce people with global mindsets or global skill sets.
- We have also heard about the importance of global partnerships not only between Thailand and the UK, CLMV and ASEAN, but also a new chapter of internationalisation. The former Minster highlights the essence of life-long education, multidisciplinary research, change of paradigms and people’s mindsets, and how opportunity and innovation can come from the very worst of situations.
Comments from British Council
The importance of a Global Collaborative Network: The pandemic is highlighting the critical role of collaboration on the frontiers of science and technology and the development of human capital. The Minister stresses the importance of working hand-in-hand, at not only a national level, but also at a regional or a global level under the Quadruple Helix approach which should be applied across higher education and research policy. The most important player is the ‘Global Collaborative Network’ which can greatly contribute to the future of international collaborations for Thailand. The involvement and commitment of diverse stakeholders will be important in ensuring an impactful and strengthened research agenda that provides real solutions, as well as equipping people with relevant global skillsets
A focus on Skill Development and Life-Long Learning: Online learning has widened access to education and knowledge. Online and personalised education has, therefore, become one of the areas that we should focus on and provide for people at all ages. The former Minister suggests that equipping the country’s human capital with the four literacies comprising of English, digital, financial, and social literacy is essential, not only for students but also for the public at large. Covid-19 has forced people to reskill and upskill their skills, so life-long learning has become crucial. Building people’s mindsets is considered as significant as upskilling them as it helps prepare them for the new way of working, learning and living.