AIT trustees to re-issue degrees to students

The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) is reviving its old board of trustees to issue degrees that are valid in Thailand, amid concerns that hasty changes to its charter disenfranchised students of their degrees.

  • Published: 14/12/2012 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

Nopadol Gunavibool, deputy permanent secretary of the Foreign Ministry in his capacity as the chairman of the AIT's board of trustees, said yesterday the board had resolved to re-issue degrees to AIT students.

They would be conferred on students who graduated in this and previous academic years so their degrees would be acceptable under Thai law and to the Office of the Higher Education Commission and the Office of the Civil Service Commission.

"The meeting agreed to solve the students' problems first. All parties understand this well, including Prof Dr Said Irandoust, the AIT president, who also attended the meeting," Mr Nopadol said.

The AIT recently implemented a new charter and governing council, replacing its original constitution and its former board of trustees.

That rendered AIT student degrees invalid in Thailand, because the new charter has not yet been ratified by the government.

Mr Nopadol said the move remains invalid under Thai law, so the board of trustees will be reinstated until the new AIT charter is ratified.

Last Tuesday, a group of AIT students visited Government House to ask Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to help solve problems at the AIT.

They blamed the AIT president for causing many problems including unfairly ending the contracts of AIT lecturers and officials, threatening lecturers and students and lacking transparency, leadership and good governance. The students also attacked his decision to revoke the AIT's old charter on Jan 30 before the new charter was ratified by the government.

The replacement of the AIT charter caused the degrees of about 300 Thai and foreign students of the institute to be rendered invalid in Thailand.

New graduates at the AIT are scheduled to receive their degrees next Tuesday.

On May 2, the Foreign Ministry warned the AIT that Thailand has not ratified the new AIT charter and has not passed any law recognising the operations of the institute.

Thailand continues to recognise the AIT by its old charter and old law dating from 1967.

Under the old charter, the management of the AIT remains under the authority of the board of trustees, not the AIT council under the new constitution.

Twelve countries and an international organisation signed the new AIT constitution on Aug 25, 2010, and it took effect on Jan 30 this year without waiting for the government's ratification.

The ratification will take time as it is tantamount to committing to an international treaty that needs the consent of parliament.

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