Thai university students face increased fees as the Government's focus on free schools means there is little cash left for tertiary expansion.
About 22 per cent of the national budget is spent on education but it is not likely to be increased, and the Government wants universities to charge full costs.This will force students to take out income-contingent loans that peg repayments to income after graduation.
But academics fear this will force students out of lower-earning subjects in the humanities into profit-oriented fields.
Reformers such as Amornwich Nakornthap, director of Chulalongkorn University's Centre for Education Policy Research, fear the onset of "fast-food" education amid talk of "franchising" degree courses. "The risk is that a degree just becomes an empty promise," Dr Amornwich said.
Other ideas under consideration include a Quality Funding Scheme, whereby an organisation could be formed to act as an investment banker to advise schools and universities and provide soft loans or grants.
Debate also continues on whether a uniform admissions test should be used across all universities or whether each can set its own test relevant to its courses.