Three-quarters of universities in Thailand are at risk of closing over the next decade because of low student enrolment and increased competition from overseas institutions, according to a lecturer in the country.
Arnold Sakworawich, lecturer in actuarial sciences and risk management at the National Institute of Development Administration, a public graduate university, told the Bangkok Post that government plans to allow foreign universities to launch campuses in the country would put many Thai universities in danger of shutting down.
Earlier this month, the Thai government said it would allow foreign universities to create satellite campuses in special economic zones along Thailand’s borders if they offer courses that are not available in Thailand, according to local news reports.
“When the market is shrinking and you try to add more players in it, the consequence is surely a higher competition,” Mr Sakworawich said.
“The worst-case scenario for me is that three-quarters of Thai universities may be forced to shut down over the next decade because they will not be able to compete with well-known and foreign universities.”
He cited shrinking birth rates as another issue threatening Thailand's institutions. The National Economic and Social Development Board expects the number of Thais aged 21 years and under to fall to 20 per cent of the population by 2040, compared with 62 per cent in 1980, he said.
Last year, just 80,000 prospective students applied for the university entrance test, but institutions had vacancies for 150,000 students, he added.