Viewed from inside, research climate at Thai universities is dismal

your say October 20, 2017 01:00

Re: “CU advances to 308th in world university rankings, Thailand told more research needed at universities”, The Nation, October 17.

US institutions take up the first three places in the latest report by the Centre for World University Rankings.

The more reliable and prestigious (in my view, and that of loads of other current and former academics, and reputable institutions) Times Higher Education 2018 rankings rate Oxford and Cambridge No 1 and 2, respectively. Caltech and Stamford share 3rd place, with MIT at No 5 and Harvard at 6. No disparity there, then.

In the UK, universities have to comply with the Research Assessment Exercise a rigorous, periodic examination of publications by individual academics, faculties and institutions. Future funding depends on the outcomes. The informal but relevant accompanying slogan is “publish or perish”.

No Thai university makes the top 500 in the Times Higher Education (THE) rankings. There are, however, representatives from Uganda, Malta and Iceland in there. Thailand’s academic performance is hardly surprising; I have worked and/or done research at three Thai universities (two in the nation’s top five), including one where the MBA Faculty had furniture with stuffing hanging out.

Mahidol is the only Thai university that makes the top 600 in THE’s rankings.

Thai universities have got to take research and publications in peer-reviewed publications much more seriously if they want to break the top 100, which they should be aiming for as a matter of course. I would love to see it happen, as this country deserves the kudos that comes with it.

Are you reading this, Education Ministry?

Dr Frank