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Recruiting Intelligence

Will Thai Education Reforms Increase Student Mobility (Part 1 of 2)


In this mini-series featuring the higher education landscape of Thailand, we will be sharing our insights about international student recruitment in Thailand, as well as our own tips for marketing your university and how to relate to your prospective students.

Today, in this series we will address the facts and figures of students from Thailand studying abroad including where and what they study. In next week’s blog we will discuss where you should be focusing your marketing efforts online and what you should be providing your new students so that you can take full advantage of this growing market.

Let's take a look at some of the more significant aspects of the Thai education market...

The higher education field in Thailand is enjoying spring, much like residents in the Northeast US following a long, cold winter. After a bit of turbulence in 2014, Thailand’s much-touted education reforms remain a work in progress. The signs of unease among local Thai students and an increased interest in outbound mobility are obvious all over the country. 

Now is a great time to start recruiting in Thailand.  Student mobility will be increasing as the middle class grows, economies stabilize, and English proficiency improves.

Current Thai Education Stats

The latest World Economic Forum report on education ranked Thailand last out of eight Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and in the 2014 Times Higher Education University Rankings, Thailand had only two universities among the top 100 in Asia and zero in the top 50. No Thai universities ranked in the world’s top 400.


Source: Archive “Education in Thailand” on WENR website

International Engagement

Let’s take a look at the Thai students’ academic mobility.


While Thai students already have a strong history of going abroad for study the latest figures show approximately 27,000 globally mobile Thai students in 2013/14. While the US continues to be the most popular destination for internationally mobile Thai students, the country’s popularity has waned from a high of 11,606 students in 2001/02 to 7,314 in 2012/13, with numbers dropping quite consistently each year since 2002. Australian, UK, Japan and Malaysia are all increasingly desirable study destinations for Thai students seeking to study abroad.

Thai Students in the US During 2013/14

Based on the Open Doors Report 2014 by IIE, there were 7,341 students from Thailand studying in the US (up just 0.4% from the previous year). A majority of Thai students in the US study at the graduate level. The breakdown was as follows: 36.9% undergraduate; 45.3% graduate students; 9.4% OPT; 8.4% other. Thailand is the 20th leading place of origin for students coming to the US. Thai students in US universities contributed $235 million to the U.S. economy. (Source: US Department of Commerce).


Education Internationalization Inside Thailand

The number of international schools in Thailand has grown from just ten in 1992 to more than 160 today. ISC Market Intelligence Reports said that Thailand is a country of most significance in terms of growth potential regions in the world.  Thailand is still among a handful of countries with “very low proficiency” in English according to the latest Education First English Proficiency Index, which looks at average English language skills in 60 countries and territories.

There is an obvious and urgent need to improve English language skills among Thai students in the country, and this has a significant impact on how US schools recruit students in the country. Short-term English boot camps or college language preparation programs would be popular and necessary programs for many Thai students.

Education USA in Thailand uses a variety of channels to push information to Thai students about the value of a US education. From Facebook to YouTube and a variety of other social media tools, Education USA understands the importance of meeting this age group where they live - on their mobile devices. Next week we will discuss some of the social media channels and other digital marketing opportunities we see in Thailand.

Any perspective to share from your own recruiting experiences in Thailand?

Topics: Country Focus