A scandal involving the buying and selling of degrees at a university in the Northeast might be nothing new to the Thai education system.
But when it involves thousands of certificates, it becomes a shocking fact that the Education Ministry could no longer afford to let such a dishonorable practice to go unnoticed
Private universities have been the primary suspects recently. They allegedly not only sell certificates, permitting these individuals to teach, outright but also offer various options to students so that they can obtain degrees without putting in any real effort. Graduation is guaranteed for them so long as they pay all the tuition and fees.
And we haven't yet mentioned public universities and colleges.
There are 39 private universities nationwide as of today, many with notable academic standards and quality programs as required by the Office of the Higher Education Commission. However, some simply focused on making money by offering shorter coursework and double-degree programs, and attracting prospective students with flashy ads while the teaching quality remains at rock-bottom.
At one time when one of the requirements for House members is a bachelor's degree as a minimum education level, some provincial politicians took the easy way out by buying the bachelor's degrees or higher from domestic and foreign universities. Particularly, one cabinet member in the Samak Sundaravej government was found to have obtained a degree from a diploma mill in the Philippines. Others attempted to be nominated for honorary degrees without possessing required knowledge or expertise in any particular fields through lobbying and bribery.
It is undeniable that Thai society still give much value to degrees while an increasing number of educational institutions have gained acceptance and recognition compared to the past. For example, graduates from Chulalongkorn University may have an advantage over those from other universities in finding jobs and become successful in their careers. Today, the name of universities seem to be less important a factor.
While an academic degree remains crucial in determining one's career and social status in Thai society, there are always those who are willing to pay for it. And a mere piece of paper will continue to be put up for sale as long as the demand is there.
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