Thailand Study Abroad Market

In this Market Report on Thailand we will cover socio-economics, educational and mobility trends. Compared to other Asian countries like China or Vietnam, Thailand is not a yet a huge study abroad market. Thailand’s outbound tertiary student mobility rate has remained the same over the past 20 years. At the turn of the century, the outbound mobility rate was 1.2 percent. In 2019 it was 1,4% (Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics). While the outbound mobility rate is not necessarily a good predictor of total growth in outbound student numbers, Thailand’s growth rate is also relatively small in absolute numbers. Between 2012 and 2019, the number of outbound degree students increased by only about 10 percent, from 28,339 students to 31,119 students (UIS).

In contrast, internationalization at home has taken a flight in Thailand. More and more Anglo-Saxon universities are opening branches in Thailand and in Bangkok in particular. Collaborative degree programs (joint or shared degrees) is a another development that has gained a lot of ground. UK universities alone have initiated 128 collaborative programs with Thai universities. Other countries that have initiated similar partnerships are China, USA, Germany, Australia and Canada.

On a policy level, the ASEAN International Mobility for Students project has lead to an increase of outward student mobility (semester programs) to countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. This program is comparable to the European Erasmus program. Another regional developments that aid the mobility of students is the introduction of a regional credit transfer system (ASEAN countries).

In 2011, the Thai Higher Education Commission identified nine institutions that were to be upgraded to national research universities. The aim of this measure was to improve research standards and output. Also, it was meant to increase research funding. These nine universities are: Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University, Thammasat University, Mahidol University, Prince of Songkla University, Suranaree University of Technology and the King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi. All this and more in the Market Report on Thailand.

Quick facts

  • Population: 71,6 million (2021)

  • Education: 9 years compulsory

  • Academic year: June – March

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 13

  • Duration: 6 years

  • Enrollment numbers: 6.3 million
    Enrollment rate: 117%

Higher education

  • Duration: 4 – 6 years (bachelor) – 2 years (Master) – 2 year (PhD)

  • Enrollment numbers: 2.5 million (2019)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 49%

  • Universities/ Institutions: 151 – (80 public, 71 private)

Thai Education System

General education policy is under the purview of the national Ministry of Education (MOE), which oversees basic, vocational and higher education, with the majority of public (and private) education institutions falling under its remit. Specialized higher education institutions are the exception as they may be under the jurisdiction of other governmental departments, such as the Ministry of Public Health (source;

Secondary education

Secondary education, for children aged 12 to 18, is divided into 2 cycles:

  • lower secondary education (Matayom 1-3/Grade 7-9); and
  • senior secondary education (Matayom 4-6/Grade 10-12).

Admission to Higher Education

A Certificate of Secondary Education or a Certificate in Vocational Education is required to be admitted into higher education. Candidates may apply to 5 faculties at either one or several universities. Admission depends on whether the applicant’s results comply with the chosen university’s standard requirements. The Central University Admission System (CUAS) has been in force since 2006. To be admitted to university, students need to take an entrance examination. (Source: Nuffic)

Higher Education system

Higher education in Thailand is provided at universities, technical institutes, professional and technical colleges, and teachers’ colleges. Higher education in Thailand is divided between 2 types of institutions. Firstly, institutions which fall under the Ministry of Education, such as state universities and private institutions for higher education, technical/professional and agricultural institutions, and teacher training colleges. Secondly, specialized training institutions which fall under various ministries or government organizations.

Bachelor Most bachelor’s programs take 4 years to complete. Some programs take 5 years to complete (architecture, art, graphic art, and pharmacy). Medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine programs take 6 years of study.

Master’s degree programs usually take 2 years. A bachelor’s degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3 is required for admission to the master.

A master’s degree with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.5 is required for admission to the PhD phase. The doctoral degree (PhD) requires 2 years of study

Visual depicting the Thai Educational System

Latest Thai Higher Education study abroad stats

At this point a total number of 28,609 students from Thailand are studying abroad as part of a degree in higher education (2023 data). According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics these are the most popular study abroad destinations among Thai students:

Thai students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in Thailand

Best performing Thai Universities

Looking to partner with Universities from Thailand? These are the best performing universities.

Mae Fah Luang University

THE Rank: 601 – 800

Mahidol University

THE Rank: 601 – 800

Chulalongkorn University

THE Rank: 801 – 1000

Upcoming Education Fairs in Thailand

Scholarships for Thai students

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