800 uni grads seek refund in licence row
Legal action threat if no payouts okayed
More than 800 master's graduates of Bangkokthonburi University (BTU) protested Sunday against the university's executives after their bid for educational administrator licences was rejected.
The protest took place at Thammasat University by graduates of the BTU's Educational Administration Programme.
Each of them had to pay tuition fees of at least 147,000 baht to join the programme. However, the Teachers' Council of Thailand (TCT) decided against granting them licences to teach after graduation.
Nirodh Nimwiwatthana, the group leader, said protesters wanted the BTU's executives to negotiate with the TCT to issue them licences or the university should refund the tuition fees.
"We do not mind if we have to be transferred to other universities, because we need educational administrator licences to apply for a school director position," Mr Nirodh said. "If they cannot provide us with the licences, they must refund the money we have paid."
BTU has offered compensation ranging from 30,000 baht to 70,000 baht to affected students, but most did not accept the offer as the amount was too low. The group said it would consult the Lawyers Council of Thailand about filing a lawsuit for fraud against the BTU if the problem isn't solved by July 25.
Last year, the TCT decided not to issue administrator licences for about 2,500 master's graduates of BTU's Educational Administration Programme in 2014 after irregularities were found. The TCT started a probe when it noticed a large number of graduates applying for licences in a short period of time.
The BTU was among 11 universities nationwide found to have enrolled more students than allowed. The TCT considered the programme a sub-standard course as it had taken in more than 2,500 post-grad students, who are teachers, when it was allowed to take only 500.
According to the Education Ministry, more than one million teaching and educational administrator licences have been issued by the TCT since 2004. The number of licences issued is too high, relative to the five million teachers nationwide.
Chaiyot Imsuwan, former TCT acting secretary-general, said Thailand now faces the prospect of teacher redundancies after universities and colleges, which offer teacher preparation programmes, took in too many students in their courses.
Universities and colleges have used teaching courses as a cash cow and deliberately took in too many students to make money from fees, he said. The Bangkok Post contacted BTU's Graduate School, but the school declined to comment.