Chula defends land use policies in central Bangkok
More than half of Chulalongkorn University's land is used for educational purposes and only 30 per cent of its property in Bangkok's prime area is for commercial purposes, its executives said yesterday.
They also defended the university's use of its land for commercial purposes, saying that much of the income had been spent for educational and academic benefits, in line with the intention of CU's founder King Vajiravudh (Rama VI).
The executives held a news conference at the university yesterday about how they managed its land.
"The revenue obtained by the university is spent on developing people and the country, as intended by King Rama VI. We look at maximum benefit, rather than highest income," said Associate Professor Permyos Kosolphan, Chulalongkorn's vice president in charge of asset management.
He said that each year at least Bt800 million of this revenue was given to society, but he did not disclose the total revenue amount.
Rental for commercial areas charged by the university is 30 per cent lower than the market rate, he said.
Chulalongkorn has 1,153 rai (184 hectares) of land in Bangkok's Pathum Wan district.
About 52 per cent of the land is used for educational purposes and 30 per cent for commercial purposes - including the land that houses Siam Square, MBK Centre, and Chamchuri Square.
The remaining 18 per cent is provided to fellow state agencies "at a small rental rate", Permyos said. These agencies include Rajamangala University of Technology's Uthen-thawai campus, the Department of Physical Education, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
CU president Professor Pirom Kamolratanakul said revenue from land rental and business ventures was destined for education, such as funding research, community service, scholarships, academic and teaching equipment, and developing human resources.
"The budget that we get from the government is not enough for efficient development of education," Pirom said.
CU has made headlines recently for asking Uthenthawai campus to move out of its land and for increasing the rent from Department of Physical Education multiple times.
Associate Professor Pongsak Wattanasin, dean of CU's faculty of architecture, told the press conference that the 21 rai of land that now houses Uthenthawai would be used for educational purposes, particularly scientific study.
He said Chulalongkorn sympathised with Uthenthawai for having to move out and that it would offer assistance in every way it could.
Uthenthawai's current and former students plan to hold a protest this Friday against eviction of the campus.
Pirom said he believed in the Uthenthawai people's dignity, adding that he did not expect any negative incidents or impacts on society or the country.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana said he had asked both Chulalongkorn and Uthenthawai to provide him additional documents supporting their stances, after Uthenthawai's executives insisted on the campus' right to remain on the land.
CU land use
_ 52percent for education
_ 30percent for commercial purposes
_ 18percent for rent/loan to state