FOUR KEY university networks voiced opposition yesterday to the establishment of the Higher Education Department.
The Office of Higher Education Commission (Ohec) is set to merge with the Science and Technology Ministry’s Office of the Permanent-Secretary to form the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations Ministry.
Hence, the university networks want Ohec to become part of the new ministry’s Office of Permanent Secretary.
“There is no need for a department of higher education,” Dr Narin Hiransuthikul said in his capacity as representative of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT).
He explained that higher-educational institutes cannot be supervised by this department, as many state universities are already autonomous entities and have been operating independently like public organisations. “They have been delivering quality work with independent management,” he pointed out.
Narin said the new ministry’s key purpose was to prepare modern, agile, goal-oriented working units, and there was no necessity to set up a higher education department.
Instead, he said: “Ohec should be turned into the Office of Permanent Secretary for the new ministry and serve as a centre for the management of higher education, with an emphasis on academic freedom, good governance and integration across the entire public sector.”
Joining CUPT’s call were the Council of Rajabhat University Presidents of Thailand, the Council of the Presidents of Rajamangala Universities of Technology and the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions of Thailand. The representatives of these groups yesterday held a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister ACM Prajin Juntong, who chairs the National Legislative Assembly’s ad-hoc committee vetting the bill to improve ministries and departments for the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations Ministry.