Higher education in Thailand has adopted the trend of sustainable development to implement a better quality of education. One of them is to promote internationalisation. However, several institutions are looking for effective and practical approaches to promote internationalisation. Essentially, SDG needs to be integrated in order to drive Thailand to global arena. This paper will discuss the implementation of internationalisation of education in Thailand towards the SDGs in two aspects: internationalisation at home and student mobility.
While Thailand is pursuing better quality education to meet the global standards, first thing that higher education needs to do is Internalisation at home (IaH). As Thailand is not a dominant hub of education in the region or global, eventually, the need of Internationalisation at home has been emphasised by the government. Thailand can use its strength of higher education with the standard and quality of international programs. Mrs. Chinda Tejavanija Chang, Vice President– International Affairs, Sripatum University reported that “The key strategy is to develop international collaborative relationship and establish regional cooperation in Higher Education aiming at promoting international education programs, faculty and student exchange, collaborative research, curriculum development, joint programs in cooperative education with multinational corporations and business sectors through encouraging government policy and regional agreements on trade and services under the Free Trade Area (FTA) Agreement.”
From this statement, the university have to develop their environment to be ready for the changes as well; firstly, providing internationalising teaching and learning at the universities. Internationalisation does not mean that the classes are conducted in English only, the educators can add the element of Internationalisation into the curriculum. It opens the gate for non-mobile students to international experiences. The students from every schools would internalise their learning experience, and educator can either internalise their teaching experience at home too. At the end, international program would be affordable for every student. Secondly, IAH promotes peace and diversity as well. People might think about exchange program or mobile students, but in reality, IAH can fill that gap and equalise the students from different backgrounds regardless of their race, belief and cultural background. IAH can be localised as a tool to enhance diversity at the universities. Lastly, stakeholders of higher education also contribute educational field. The contributors will get the benefits of Internationalisation by the quality of employees and know-how from the university as they are interested in good education and essential expertise. In this part, we can see that SDG shares influential practices for IAH as a tool for quality education.
Thailand and ASEAN are trying to call higher education institutions to promote student mobility. The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) stated that “In order to facilitate students’ mobility, the region’s diverse higher education systems need harmonised standards and mechanisms for permeable and transparent quality assurance and credit transfer among institutions. Encouraging and supporting students to study abroad is a major strategy to develop a well-trained international workforce, which can improve the quality and quantity of human resources. Similar to the European Erasmus programme, the region envisions a programme of its own to facilitate the mobility of university students within the region; taking advantage of its great diversity, which represents both potentials and challenges related to historical differences, cultural backgrounds, ideological gaps, development, languages, etc.”
It is can be visualised that education mobility is another fundamental for everyone. Higher education institutions are raising the quality to be equate with the international standard. Students and educators from Thailand are more involved with the international programs. According to the data provided by the UIS, the number of international degree students in Thailand increased by fully 979 percent between 1999 and 2012, from 1,882 to 20,309 students. In addition, the emergence of ASEAN leads Thai universities to be more engaged with neighbour countries to leverage the collaborative program among ASEAN members. Thailand is ready for mobile students since there are many platforms to promote student mobility, for instance, the Passage to ASEAN (P2A), ASEAN University Network (AUN), ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS) program. The rise of mobile students in Thailand can reflect the quality of education as well as the trustworthy of the institutions.
In a nutshell, it can be summarised that an implementation of SDG in internationalisation of higher education have transformed to be holistic. This results in the activation of Thai universities emphasis on making internationalisation at home happen and higher education would stretch to mobile education as well. Hence, it is significant that in this changing era, the flow of SDG4 has made higher education to be more competitive and adaptive.