KMUTT targets to be 'uni for all ages'
King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) has set a target to become a "university for all ages" as Thailand now faces a drop in the number of high school graduates and technological disruption.
KMUTT rector Suvit Saetia said the falling birth rate and technological disruption are transforming the labour market in Thailand. The country will soon have a smaller working-age population and people who are already in the job market will have to reskill and upskill themselves to catch up with the changes in technology.
Mr Suvit said that universities of the future must become places for all ages as there will be no age limit for studying at universities anymore.
"Now universities cannot just focus on students with a high school degree. Yet, we must also keep an eye on the 38 million people who are already in the workforce," he said.
Mr Suvit said he believed the demand for non-degree and online courses which are cheaper and easier to access will soon increase. People who want to reskill themselves will choose not to sit in classes for years to study many unrelated programmes to get a degree. Instead, they will attend short-term courses to acquire certain skills required by employers.
To catch up with this trend, KMUTT on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Southeast Asia's Lifelong Learning Center (SEAC) to develop non-degree programmes available in e-learning, online learning and classroom learning, aiming at three main targets -- students, businesses and industry personnel and the general public.
"From now on, we will welcome students from various generations while at the same time study programmes and curriculum will not be restricted by semesters and units. Meanwhile, the examination-based assessments will have to be adjusted," Mr Suvit said.
The agreement between KMUTT and the SEAC will take three years, from 18 June 2020 until 17 June 2023. In the first year, pilot projects will be carried out domestically such as a collaboration to design learning courses for new career groups such as Online Instructional Designer, Virtual Learning Facilitator and Data Scientist Facilitator.
There will also be the development of a non-degree Business Mindset curriculum designed particularly for science personnel and researchers who are in dire need of business skills and knowledge.
In the following years, KMUTT and the SEAC plan to expand their operations and services to neighbouring countries.
Arinya Talerngsri, Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director of SEAC, said this agreement will bring about positive changes in Thailand's economy and society as it can alleviate the issue of its low-quality workforce, unemployment and other employment conundrums where supply and demand do not match.
"University study that takes four to five years will be a thing of the past. Now people are welcome to learn whenever they feel the need to. With the right skills, they can enter the labour market. Whenever they feel they need to upskill, they can return for more study. After all, this is called a Lifetime University," she said.