Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Thailand's Education System

The Ministry of University Affairs/MUA introduced accreditation and quality assurance in 1996. All public and private universities have set up quality assurance systems and work towards quality teaching. Internal and external quality assurance was brought forward through the National Education Act 1999. As per the act, quality assurance in higher educational institutions includes an external and internal system. For internal accreditation and quality assurance, the internal mechanisms are used. External quality assurance is through ONESQA or Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment. This is a public organisation responsible for external assessment.

Internal Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Thailand

Quality Assurance Framework: Foundation for Thai quality assurance framework lies in formulation of standard criteria and requirements established by MUA for degree courses in the nation. All degree courses provided at public and private higher educational institutions, especially transitional ones will have to attain standard criteria before they are approved for starting operations. Over years, approval authorisation has been transferred by MUA to public higher educational institutions. Governing councils as well as academic boards are responsible for quality of educational provision and this includes academic standard control. External persons with expertise are invited by some of the universities for review of developing curricula and reviewing internal activities. Accreditation system is associated with professional degrees such as architecture, nursing and medicine. For private higher educational institutes, MUA takes care of approval of degree programmes and accreditation. MUA is currently known as Commission on Higher Education under the Ministry of Education. Three aspects of quality control are under its aegis namely quality control, audit and assessment. 

Framework provides autonomy to institutions to adapt their traditions. Quality framework proposed by the commission has 9 components:
  • Objectives, commitment and philosophies
  • Research and academic services
  • Preserving culture and art
  • Management and administration
  • Budgeting and finance
  • Internal systems and mechanisms of quality assurance 
  • Learning plus teaching 
  • Student development activities
However, each institution is also given the freedom to establish a quality assurance system relevant to its context. Each institution develops its own system. Implementation, audit and review is based on policy makers within the institution. 

External Quality Assurance in Thailand

ONESQA: Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment was formed in the year 2000. It is a public body which is independent and concerned with external quality assurance and accreditation. Each institution reviews its performance based on the following indicators provided by ONESQA:

  • Graduates quality: Four indicators
  • Support for learning resources: Five indicators
  • Innovating and research: Four Indicators
  • Academic support service: Two indicators
  • Preserving culture and art: Two indicators
  • Management as well as administrational operations: Five indicators
  • System for internal quality assurance: Two indicators
Indicators: Only five of the 28 indicators are descriptive in nature. There are differences between institutions in the use of these statistical indicators for assessing performance of institutions. Once certain standards are marked, the first review cycle is carried out by ONESQA to assess the external quality assurance system. Review cycle lasts for 5 years and comprises the following principles:

Standards of Assessment: International standards  against which higher education is measured and assessed:
  • Quality of academic standards upheld in educational institutions for higher education
  • Upholding academic standard quality in universities and institutions
  • National Education Act’s objectives, principles as well as directives to guide the process
  • Review and confirmation of current system of the institute for assessment of quality and functions keeping in mind their objectives, visions, missions, uniqueness and academic autonomy
  • Support for the implementation of internal system of quality assurance in an institution
  • Transparency and accountability while carrying out the assessment
Dimensions of Development: 3 dimensions of development are considered namely achievement, attempt and awareness. The self review report and data of each university is submitted to ONESQA before external assessing is carried out. Extra documents and reports on internal system of quality assurance complements the external assurance system. Experts and academic authorities from various sectors constitute the team for review and assessment.

Important Organizations for Quality Assurance and Accreditation

  • Ministry for Education, Thailand
  • Bureau for International Cooperation Strategy, Office of Higher Education Commission,
  • Office of the Higher Education Commission
  • Office for National Education Standards and Quality/ONESQA

Commission on Higher Education or CHE is a catalyst in the process of assessing higher educational institutions for accreditation and quality assurance. Internal as well as external systems of quality assurance are well in place to provide feedback to institutions and universities.

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