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Two birds with one stone
now have the option of programmes offering
two degrees for the price of one
As the competition for the best jobs becomes fiercer, prospective university students are trying to find the best possible academic route to high-paying jobs with continual opportunities for advancement.
It is clear that one of the most important qualifications nowadays is an excellent mastery of English, hence the popularity of university international programmes. But fluent English and a university degree will often not be enough, as there are many other people with the same qualifications.
Students must therefore try to differentiate themselves, seeking the value-added features to their degree that employers are seeking. Local universities are trying to meet these demands. Some have gone so far as to team up with foreign universities permitting them to synergise their strengths in the form of double degree programmes.
What are double degree programmes?
Double degree programmes essentially mean that students receive two degrees when they graduate without having to invest double the time or money. Bachelor degree programmes are structured so that students first study in Thailand for the initial part of the programme and complete the rest at a partner university abroad – thus the term “bridging” or “twinning” programme.
A different twinning option available for post-graduate masters students allows them to continue to live and to work full-time in Bangkok without having to leave the country for the entire duration of their studies. These masters programmes are all offered in very convenient and easily accessible locations.
Most importantly, universities that offer double degree programmes have extremely well qualified professors from both Thailand and abroad, giving students exposure to experts from around the world and the multi-cultural perspectives they bring with them.
Kasetsart University’s International Double Degree Programme in Aerospace Engineering and Business Administration in conjunction with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia.
Kasetsart University’s five-year programme offers students a choice of two degrees and three diplomas – a Bachelor diploma in Business Administration from RMIT and two diplomas in Engineering, one from RMIT and one from KU.
“The strength of our programme lies in our dual focus on business and engineering that will help prepare and train students to not only think from the perspective of scientists, but also from that of managers and investors,” says Assistant Professor Piroj Uthrapong.
“Furthermore, by knowing how to speak English well, our students can work internationally and some of our past graduates have already found employment in Australia.”
There are merit-based scholarships for students who achieve five A’s. Pakawut Amarinrat, a scholarship recipient, chose this programme because he found the curriculum to meet his needs and believes it will help him with his future dream to own his own business one day.
Says Bhavin Mettanant, another student in the programme, “it provides a big picture that helps me better understand the integration of science with business and demonstrates how interconnected our world really is. We not only look at the safety or the performance of an automobile, but also at the production costs. Thus, we have more opportunities to really understand the whole process from the initial design right to the very end when the product is delivered to customers.”
Tuition fees start at 3,200 baht per credit while at KU, and about Aus $19,100 (563,000 baht) per year at RMIT.
Twinning Engineering Programme at Thammasat University (Rangsit Campus)
Situated on a very modern and spacious campus in Rangsit, the Faculty of Engineering’s Twinning Programme in Engineering offers a selected group of students the opportunity to study engineering first at TU, then either at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom or the University of Regina in Canada. As at KU, students will earn two separate diplomas from each university.
“Students who choose to continue on in the UK will also receive a bursary equivalent to a 25 percent tuition discount, something which students would not receive if they were to apply directly to Nottingham,” points out Dr Danai Wantanakorn, the Director of the programme.
Dr Sanya Mitaim, the deputy director of this programme believes the benefits students gain from the programme are considerable. “Students will graduate with a thorough understanding of their chosen discipline, as well as the ability to communicate at a high level of proficiency in English. We place a great deal of emphasis on English and students are required to read English every term,” Dr Sanya relates.
Aekthada Chivakanit, a TU student, says that he would like to be an aerospace engineer and likes TU because of its dual focus on engineering as well as English. “I didn’t choose Kasetsart’s programme because I felt that it was too focused on aerospace. Here, my specialisation is mechanical engineering which is broader and the basis for other branches of engineering,” Aekthada explains.
He also recommends to potential students that they be truly interested in this programme, otherwise they will find the courses to be very difficult. “The key to success here is time management and to know how to balance homework with social activities,” Aekthada concludes.
Tuition fees and accommodation while at TU for two years are estimated to be 387,500 baht and tuition fees in England and Canada are £15,000 (1,055,000 baht) and CDN $27,000 (816,000 baht) per year respectively.
College of Management, Mahidol University (CMMU at SCB Park)
Mahidol University’s College of Management offers a unique six-semester degree programme in Management and Marketing. Students attend classes and complete the entire programme without having to ever step foot out of Thailand. Professors from UTS fly from Australia to lecture every two weeks of the semester at the SCB campus. Students learn from Australian specialists in management and marketing, and thereby gain insights into Western know-how and perspectives.
Students in this programme are made to feel that they are UTS students because of the UTS student cards and caps they receive. They also have access to UTS on-line library resources. In addition they use specially designed reading materials and specially selected textbooks.
Vipas Chardenphao chose to study at CMMU because of the integration of management and marketing that would give him greater job flexibility. “I like the interactive nature of CMMU because of the small class sizes,” he says.
Jennifer Noeypatimanond echoes Vipas’s comments and adds that this double degree programme is equivalent to studying abroad while providing her tools to adapt her knowledge to local conditions.
Kingkarn Suensilpong says she chose this programme on the advice of her professor at Assumption University. “He told me that the combined CMMU/UTS programme is the best marketing programme in Asia and I heeded his advice and decided to enrol here. I find the contents to be internationally oriented, but with a focus adapted to issues that pertain to the local market and people. I also appreciate the excellent and high-tech facilities, as well as the opportunity to meet many new friends,” Kingkarn says.
Since the Australian professors are not based in Thailand, students can only communicate with them economically via email. However, CMMU, has arranged the courses so that associate instructors – all full-time Mahidol professors – co-teach, answer questions and otherwise provide guidance to the students here in Bangkok. Classes are delivered all day on the weekends.
Tuition fees for this double degree programme is around 650,000 baht.
Other programmes in Bangkok
Naresuan University’s Dual-Degree Programme with Southern Cross University, Australia at Wave Place Building
Similar in format and classroom delivery to Mahidol’s programme, this Master’s level degree programme in International Tourism and Hotel Management is offered completely in Thailand. Courses are held at NU’s Bangkok campus at Wave Place Building which is easily accessible by BTS (Ploenchit Station). Students receive two degrees, one from Naresuan University and the other from the award winning School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at Southern Cross University. The programme teaches students to be competitive and fully functional in one the world’s fastest growing industries. Tuition fees for the entire two-year programme are about 450,000 baht. That includes the cost of a graduation trip to Australia where students will have a chance to attend their convocation ceremony. The schedule also accommodates working adults, with classes available during weekday evenings and on weekends.
Master of Marketing Communication: A double degree programme from the University of Canberra and Dhurakijpundit University
This one-and-a-half-year programme will officially commence on July 2004 with its first intake of 15-20 students. The entire programme will be delivered at the Dhurakijpundit campus with professors from both DPU and Canberra University in Australia involved in the teaching. A unique aspect of this programme is provided by the on-line supplements using WebCT that allow students to access materials such as case studies, from the web any time and from anywhere. In addition, access to the University of Canberra’s intranet will also permit local students to conduct on-line research and utilise Australian on-line libraries. The estimated cost ranges from 398,000-460,000 baht, depending on whether or not students require IELTS Prep courses.
University admissions process
Application to each double degree programme, either at the bachelor or master level, is based on a rigorous selection process, as most programmes receive more applicants than they can accommodate.
Admissions to both intensive bachelor programmes are based largely on the students’ prior educational background and specific competencies in mathematics, physics and chemistry. In addition, since the entire programme will be delivered in English, an excellent knowledge of the language is imperative, as determined by scores earned on various types of standardized examinations (TOEFL, TU-GET, IELTS). After the initial screening process, an interview in English will allow the admissions committee to screen students and select only those who they feel would be able to successfully complete and meet the standards established for these rigorous curricula. Both universities stress that students should really enjoy and be interested in science and engineering and have a desire to pursue careers in this field, otherwise the students might not be successful in their studies.
At the master level, students are required to sit institutional qualitative and English language exams (TOEFL/IELTS scores can be used instead), as well as to pass an oral interview. Similar to the bachelor programmes, applicants must be able to understand lecturers and communicate in English at a high level. The three universities have their own particular admissions procedures and schedules. Work experience is not required for any of the three programmes.
Studying in English
While there are benefits for studying within the Kingdom at international programmes, it is unrealistic for students studying locally in these programmes to see drastic improvements in their English language skills.
This is because outside the classroom – during group meetings and even in interactions with Thai professors – the language will generally be in Thai, not English. Students will definitely develop fluency and gain practical experience in public speaking and presentation skills, but their accuracy, pronunciation and cultural literacy will not improve as much as might be expected.
An exception should be for the juniors and seniors in the Thammasat and Kasetsart programmes, who spend the latter portions of their programmes immersed in English while studying in the UK, Canada or Australia.
Making the decision
Graduates from these programmes have wide exposure to the international arena, something which is particularly important as globalisation is rendering our world smaller and local markets are blending into one global market. A thorough understanding of how people think and work outside of one’s own territory cannot but be beneficial to Thailand’s future human resources, as more and more firms interact with foreigners.
Attending a double degree programme would provide students with the opportunity to develop multiple skills in more than one discipline, and to gain the courage to speak and use their English. Although such programmes require more commitment and dedication on the part of the student, job prospects are very promising and extremely rewarding as students learn to think critical, analyse difficult situations and to be multi-faceted, all of which are necessary skills for the new knowledge-based economy.
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Last modified: January 5, 2004