New postgraduate courses to be offered in strategic sectors

New postgraduate courses to be offered in strategic sectors

The government plans to accelerate the implementation of a plan to help universities produce graduates in the sectors most in need of an influx of highly trained new recruits.

Starting in the coming semester in August, those fresh out of universities or vocational colleges will be offered an opportunity to be enrolled in two-year further education programmes to prepare them to meet the demands of the changing domestic and global labour markets, said Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn yesterday.

The organisations involved in the implementation of this project include the Education Ministry, the Office of the Higher Education Commission (Ohec), the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), and the universities themselves.

These study programmes, he said, will be offered in eight key industries including railways, aviation, mechatronics, tourism and logistics.

The new programmes will involve a combination of academic work, hands-on training and critical thinking classes, said Dr Udom.

The enrolment of students into these programmes will be expedited so that the participating universities can begin selecting and receiving students in either the third round of the new university admissions system in April or the fifth round in July, he said.

The new university admissions system, called the Thai University Central Admission System, takes effect from the beginning of the 2018 academic year.

Also discussed at Monday's meeting of higher education stakeholders was the possibility of offering shorter courses, of three months to one year, for graduates who want to further develop their qualifications to better meet the specific requirements of the industries they wish to seek employment in, said Dr Udom.

Companies in the most common target industries for these new courses will be invited to a meeting next week to jointly review the proposed study programmes and training courses, he said.

According to the initial proposal, seven universities have been selected to take part in a pilot trial of the new courses. However, it was agreed that any other interested universities should soon be allowed to take part in the project, if they so wish, said Dr Udom.

In the long run, the government intends to subsidise study programmes of four years or more that correspond to the government's national development policy. The idea was inspired by a similar project in Taiwan that proved highly successful in promoting specialist skill sets among fresh graduates.

In a related development, Assoc Prof Pattanan Hansapiromchok, deputy secretary-general of the Coordinating Centre for Public Higher Education Staff, yesterday expressed concerns over the government's plans to use reductions in student loans for certain courses in order to disincentivise the take-up of courses related to highly competitive industries with only a limited number of graduate vacancies on offer, she said.

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