Thais Flock to China for Higher Education

The number of Thais attending Chinese universities has grown six-fold in recent years. Lower fees, China’s growing economic power, and the fact that many are third generation Thai-Chinese are reasons cited for the increased enrollment. Favored courses include Chinese language, medicine, acupuncture and business. Despite having one of the largest education budgets, Thailand was ranked 45th out of 49 countries in terms of educational competitiveness. Some Chinese universities are specifically targeting Thai students. – YaleGlobal

Thais Flock to China for Higher Education

Thursday, February 21, 2002

BANGKOK - Thai students are enrolling in Chinese universities by the droves - attracted by China's growing economic might, low tuition fees and quality of education.


They are making a beeline for courses, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, in Chinese language, acupuncture, medicine and business.


Nearly 70 Thai students, the first batch this year, will have headed to various universities in China by the end of this month for short- and long-term language courses.


'The number of Thai students pursuing higher education in China has grown six- or seven-fold within the past few years,' said Mr Tekhua Pung, director of the international relations centre at the Oriental Culture Academy (OCA), an official Chinese universities agency in Thailand.


At the Beijing Language and Culture University, one of the most famous language institutions for foreign students in China, there are nearly 300 Thai students studying Chinese in full-time courses alone.


Apart from language studies, a number of Thai students are also opting for courses in acupuncture, medicine, business and other fields at Chinese universities.


There are currently eight universities in Beijing, Shanghai, Hainan, Guangxi and Qingdao which deal officially with the agency in Thailand.


According to Mr Tekhua, other Chinese universities are also starting to target Thai students. Peking University and Suzhou University, for example, will officially appoint the OCA as their local agent next year.


A key factor that makes China increasingly popular with Thai students, he said, is lower tuition fees and living expenses.


To take a one-year language course at a Chinese university, a student spends on average 200,000 baht (S$8,460) to 350,000 baht, which covers tuition, air fares, university accommodation and food.


Another factor is that most students are third-generation Thai-Chinese who also want to be fluent in Chinese.


A survey of educational competitiveness last year had ranked Thailand 44th out of 49 countries - despite the country having one of the biggest education budgets.


Thailand is the second biggest spender on education among the 11 Asian countries cited in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2001 by the International Institute for Management Development, said National Education Commission secretary-general Rung Kaewdaeng. --The Nation/AsiaNews Network



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