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Thai Junta Looks to Allow Foreigners to Set up Universities in Special Economic Zones



Prime Minister Prayut meeting with the Policy Committee on Special Economic Zone Development.

BANGKOK – Thailand’s Military Cabinet is planning to allow foreigners to set up universities in Special Economic Zones in an effort to address skill shortages.

The plan has already won the green light from the joint meeting of the Cabinet and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

Government Spokesman Lt General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said that to implement the plan, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will have to invoke his power as the NCPO chief under Article 44 of the Interim Constitution first.

According to Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Article 44 is the proposed solution because the plan involves the exemption of some normal rules.

“If we use normal rules of the Office of the Higher Education Commission, it will take too long for such universities to kick off. If we wait that long, Thailand may not be able to produce necessary human resources for the new trends in time,” Teerakiat said.

He pointed out that Thailand still had a shortage of robotics and electric-train programmes at universities.

“But we have set our sights on embracing Thailand 4.0,” he said.

According to Sansern, foreign educational institutions will be allowed to offer courses which are not available in Thailand to Thai students, primarily in special economic zones. They must also comply with Thai regulations and meet the standard criteria for all university-level courses.

The Cabinet also wanted foreign institutions to provide vocational programs in Thailand. Stricter requirements will, however, have to be met in order to prevent them from competing with Thai vocational colleges.

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