Stamps-for-grades scandal spurs probe

A panel has been set up to consider possible disciplinary action against a lecturer at Kalasin Rajabhat University for allegedly giving out grades in exchange for 7-Eleven stamps to redeem premium goods.

A screen capture from the nine-minute YouTube video that shocked the Rajabhat University system into opening a probe into blatant grades-selling by a lecturer.

The investigation, ordered Tuesday by the Council of Rajabhat University Presidents of Thailand (CRUPT), came only after a video clip was posted on YouTube.

It shows the lecturer caught in the act of scolding students for complaining about her conduct to the university administrators.

The nine-minute clip, recorded on March 23, was believed to have been posted by one of the students in a special programme of the Education Faculty's Pre-School Education branch.

The student posted the clip after a complaint to the university about the lecturer's behaviour received no response.

“You complained that you lost a lot of money to earn stamps. Did I force you to give me those stamps? I just offered you a suggestion,” the lecturer said in the video clip.

“Khanittha got 17 points in psychology class. She gave me stamps. Then, I gave her A+.”

“Do you think you got that grade by your own brain?” the lecturer said.

From the conversation in the clip, it can be concluded the lecturer gave students one extra point in their grades obtained for a subject in exchange for 25 discount stamps from 7-Eleven stores.

One female student reportedly exchanged 400 stamps for an A grade, according to the YouTube poster.

The stores have been handing out stamps under a promotional campaign to attract customers.

The stamps can be used for discounts or gifts at the stores.

Students also claimed they were forced to participate in a study tour to Vietnam which turned out to be a leisure trip for lecturers, and were asked to buy glassware in exchange for passing grades.

Niwat Klin-Ngam, president of CRUPT, said he had ordered a probe against the lecturer after an initial probe showed there were grounds to believe the clip was real.

He said the probe committee would be made up mostly of outsiders to ensure transparency and fairness.

“The degree of punishment will depend on the investigation outcome which is expected to be revealed this month. Teachers should never exploit their students for any purpose,'' he said.

Nopporn Kosirayothin, acting rector of Kalasin Rajabhat University, said the university has suspended the lecturer in question pending the investigation.

He said maybe the reason the lecturer, whose identity has been withheld, engaged in such conduct was because the course is part of a special programme offered to people outside the campus.

"She might have thought it was ordinary practice, judging from what I heard, that some lecturers at other places also exchange grades for some beer,'' Mr Nopporn said.

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Writer: Lamphai Intathep
Position: Reporter