Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Education Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-08-15

Overview

Thailand’s education market is still centered on improving English proficiency and enhancing the digital and IT skills of students, teachers, and employees as a way to grow the number of highly skilled workers and increase competitiveness in key industry sectors, including robotics, aviation and logistics, biofuels, and biochemicals, digital industries, and healthcare.

During the pandemic, the government encouraged existing employees to learn new skills and technologies, thereby expanding potential employment opportunities. In September 2020, the Thailand Ministry of Education announced a major focus on English learning to hire at least 10,000 foreign English teachers to upgrade the Thai educational system’s language schools, focusing on early childhood and vocational education.

With the rapidly increasing demand for English language education in Thailand, the country has experienced huge growth in the number of international schools and online English learning programs. Key factors driving this demand are the rising middle-class and Thailand’s increasing economic and political ties with the developed world. As a result, there is a significant increase in the number of Thai children who study abroad at an early age. A similar trend occurs among high school students who are interested in studying abroad and learning English. Both private and public high schools now offer students the option to study in an English program. The graduates from these schools are good candidates for further education in the United States because of their advanced English language skills and familiarity with the western education system. The United States is still one of the top destinations for Thais wanting to study higher education abroad because of its reputation for strong academic programs.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Thailand’s Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC), under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, encouraged all schools to maximize employing e-learning platforms and transform all in-person classes with online classes. However, small schools are still facing a severe shortage of basic resources, and children do not have smartphones or adequate access to wi-fi services. During homeschooling, Thai students who are unfamiliar with online learning classes find themselves lagging behind their classmates, causing a big gap in the quality of education. There are nearly 13 million students stranded at home and 600,000 teachers who are unable to teach their classes.

The demand to study abroad was put on hold due to the COVID situation. Many students who were studing overseas had to return home and finish their studies via online classes. According to the 2019/2020 Open Doors report, prepared by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in 2020, the total number of Thai students in the United States continued to decline by five percent to 6,145 students compared to 6,503 students in the previous year. Thai students studying in the United States included 43 percent undergraduates, 34 percent post-graduates, 15 percent Optional Practical Training (OPT) students, and seven percent non-degree programs (English as a Second Language).

Thai students are mostly self-funded; however, scholarships are being offered by Thai government agencies as well as public sector and private sources in countries such as Japan, Germany, Italy, and China. The Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC) is a government agency that oversees students and manages the scholarship of all Thai Royal Scholarship recipients. A common scholarship would involve a Thai student receiving a scholarship to study overseas, where a specific corporation is headquartered, and then returning to Thailand to ply their trade at the Thailand office of the corporate entity that granted the scholarship, usually for a predetermined period that was stipulated in the initial scholarship offer.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Business administration, IT and technology, healthcare, digital marketing and content in graduate and undergraduate degrees
  • 4–6 weeks summer language training and cultural programs
  • One-year exchange program at a high school level
  • Two-year, community colleges

Opportunities

Students looking to enter undergraduate and graduate programs often choose a pathway program to learn more about Western culture and immerse themselves in an English language environment with native speakers before enrolling in their intended study program to ease the transition into a new social environment. During the pandemic, online courses provide an alternative option to study and earn a degree from abroad. However, most students who plan to study abroad have postponed their plans until the situation is back to normal.

Thailand still lacks employees with skill sets both in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and English proficiency. Therefore, to support advancement in areas listed in the Thailand 4.0 plan, the government has permitted “high potential” foreign higher education institutions (HEIs) to set up campuses in Thailand. The first two foreign HEIs to establish partnerships with local universities are Carnegie Mellon University and the National Taiwan University. There are more opportunities for U.S. institutions to open facilities in Thailand to educate workers for targeted industries.

Another niche for potential growth is exchange programs for Thai high school students. Since parents are more interested in sending their children to gain experience in studying abroad for a short period initially, this group of students will be a target for further education abroad. Currently, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia are the major destinations for Thai high school students studying abroad. School fees in these countries are more competitive than the cost of schools in the United States and the United Kingdom. Moreover, most of the schools in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia work with study abroad agencies to promote their institutions, while most of the schools in the United States do not.

Trade Shows

OCSC International Education Expo 2021

Dates: November (TBD)

Description: International high school visits and International Education Fairs in Bangkok, Thailand