Education minister urges universities to change with the times

Education minister urges universities to change with the times

Universities need to adapt to digital disruption and shifting demographics. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Universities need to adapt to digital disruption and shifting demographics. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Suvit Maesincee has called on universities to adapt to digital disruption and shifting demographics.

Mr Suvit said universities need to move with the times as they are now faced with two major threats -- the decline in college-age students and technological disruption.

"For one thing, Thailand's birth rate has fallen drastically," Mr Suvit said, "For another, technologies have evolved to a point where people can learn anytime, anywhere. Disruption has been moving fast. If universities do not adjust, they will be left behind."

Mr Suvit said universities should focus more on upgrading the skills of the 35 million people who are already in the job market.

He said universities of the future must become places for all ages. In a rapidly changing technological world, there will be no age limit for studying at universities as everyone will need to re-skill themselves many times during their careers.

"Universities should find their niche or focus on a particular area that matches their expertise. They must be places where students and industries collaborate on projects that solve real-world problems, Mr Suvit said.

Mr Suvit also urged universities to overhaul their curriculum in each major to keep subject knowledge up to date, close outdated majors and open new ones that are in line with the government's policies.

"In the near future, students will not have to sit in classes for four years to study many unrelated programmes to get a degree. The degrees should be more flexible and enable each student to learn at a pace that best suits their abilities and to engage with content that is most beneficial to them," he said.

Instead of only focusing on providing students with the requisite skills to turn them into skilled workers, universities should prepare students to become lifelong learners.

"Universities must teach students to learn to think and have a critical mind to analyse and appraise. Universities must transform themselves into learning spaces for students," he said.

Mr Suvit said his ministry is ready to support all universities to adapt to the "fast-changing world of the 21st century" and will ease some regulations seen as an obstacle to that process.

"Easing regulations seen as an obstacle to the adaptation of Thai universities will be an urgent issue for our ministry. I've set a target to finish it within the first six months," Mr Suvit said.

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