Kasetsart University is working out a plan to develop curriculums for five fields of study in preparation for the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
Mahidol University is also developing an international curriculum for professional nursing education in response to Thailand’s strategy to develop itself as a medical hub in this region.
President of Kasetsart University Associate Professor Vudtechai Kapilakanchana said that the five fields of study include agriculture, food science, veterinary science, nanotechnology for agriculture and industry, and software and computer engineering. He said that Kasetsart is the first agricultural university in Thailand that offers wide-ranging courses covering agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Today Kasetsart has become a leading agricultural university and a center for modern agricultural innovation in Asia.
It is joining hands with a foreign university in opening an international program in agro-industrial innovation and technology. This field of study is expected to help mobilize Thailand’s economy when AEC goes into full effect. As for the field of veterinary science, Thailand is set to become one of the top five veterinarian centers in Asia by 2015.
The university is also developing another three fields of study in preparation for AEC. They include logistics, business administration, and public health, and nursing.
Meanwhile, Assistant Professor Jariya Witayasuporn, Head of the Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, said that a new program, "Hybrid Education Model,” has been developed for professional nursing education. The program at both master’s and doctoral levels aims to develop Thailand into a leading country in ASEAN in terms of nursing education. "Hybrid Education,” a combination of online and traditional classroom instruction, is the latest trend in higher education.
The program is expected to produce 20 Thai and foreign nursing professionals a year. Today, Mahidol University’s Department of Nursing produces 230 nurses at the bachelor’s degree level each year. Another 82 educational institutions across Thailand are able to produce altogether 8,000 nurses a year. About 150,000 nurses have registered at the Thailand Nursing and Midwifery Council, but between 120,000 and 130,000 people are now engaged in this profession.
The ratio of nurses to the Thai population is 1:500 for the whole country. A survey shows that there is a shortage of nurses now. Demand for nurses in the future is likely to increase significantly. Nursing is among the eight professions for which AEC will allow the free flow of skilled labor. The other seven professions include doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, accountants, surveyors, and professions in the tourism industry.