Mae Fah Luang University has said it doubts the veracity of a former lecturer's claim that she was mentally ill, the reason she gave for not continuing to work as required to repay the costs of her PhD scholarship.
The university is suing the former lecturer, known as "Dr Keng", for 16 million baht in compensation.
In response to a high-profile TV interview with Dr Keng that aired on Monday morning, Mae Fah Luang said in a statement that she had never filed any document to prove her psychological disturbance when she resigned her post.
According to the statement, Dr Keng joined the university as a lecturer at its school of management on Oct 3, 2005. On Sept 17, 2008, she obtained scholarships from the university and the then Ministry of Science and Technology to pursue a doctoral degree at the University of Kent in England.
After graduating, Dr Keng returned to work at the university on Aug 2, 2013. Just over a year later – on Aug 19, 2014 – she tendered her resignation, effective on Sept 1, 2014.
The statement said that at that time, Dr Keng confirmed her decision to resign and acknowledgement of the conditions of scholarship repayment, and the university then approved her resignation.
According to her scholarship contracts and the regulations of the Finance Ministry, the then Ministry of Science and Technology and Mae Fah Luang University, the former lecturer was obliged to repay the ministry's scholarships of 630,207.46 baht and 194,730 pounds, along with the university's scholarship worth 726,305.94 baht.
The contracts and regulations of the Finance Ministry exempt scholarship awardees from repayment if they have medical evidence from a public hospital to prove that their mental condition prevented them from working off the debt.
However, Dr Keng had never filed such medical evidence with the university during her tenure and up until her resignation, the statement said.
Dr Keng later presented medical evidence to the Administrative Court in Chiang Mai province, but the move came too late to comply with her scholarship agreements. The court in Chiang Mai thus ruled she must repay her scholarships.
Dr Keng appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court on April 18 this year.
In the statement, Mae Fah Luang said a compromise is impossible while the trial is ongoing. The university had always treated Dr Keng fairly and compassionately, it said, and had supported her desire to study abroad.
The university said it based its actions regarding Dr Keng on legal procedures and conditions, and would abide by the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court.