Webster set for relocation to Bangkok
Webster University’s Thailand (WUT) branch plans to close its Cha-am campus and move to an area closer to Bangkok in a bid to double its number of students within five years.
The move follows a report released by WUT’s parent campus in the US raising crucial issues of substandard facilities and inconsistencies in information provided in quality assurance reports, among other things, following complaints from disgruntled students and faculty members.
However, Webster's rector Ratish Thakur cited convenience as the main factor behind the decision to move, which will be the campus’ biggest investment since its establishment in Thailand in 1999.
“We think our location [in Cha-am] is a limitation. It’s a very old facility, and for many families in Thailand, they would prefer that their children stay with them,” Mr Thakur said. “If you have a good location and good facility, student numbers can increase.”
Mr Thakur estimated that a campus closer to Bangkok would reduce the cost of living for students by about 50%.
“If people are in Cha-am, the price of a condominium, laundry and a maid in some cases are more than tuition,” he said.
An affiliate of Webster University in St Louis, WUT’s main campus is located in an isolated rural area about 185km south of Bangkok in Phetchaburi province near the popular seaside resort communities of Cha-am and Hua Hin.
At present WUT has about 480 students, up from 90-100 when Mr Thakur took charge in 2009.
About 150 students are at the Bangkok academic centre at the Empire Tower in the centre of Bangkok.
Mr Thakur aims to double the student body to a little more than 1,000 within the next four to five years, a task that would also require doubling the amount of faculty members from the present 50 to 100. Thais would represent more than 25% of the student body, up from 15% now.