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: 2019-10-13

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

Overview> The Thai government is aiming to improve its education system and to develop technological skills of highly educated workers in order to serve target industry sectors. The target sectors are the “First S-curve” sectors, including next-generation automotive; smart electronics; affluent medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; and future-oriented foods, as well as the “New S-curve” sectors, including robotics; aviation and logistics; biofuels and biochemicals; digital industries; and medical hubs.  These development strategies are in line with the government’s policy to upgrade Thailand from a middle income to a highly developed country by 2036. 

With the rapidly increasing demand for English language education in Thailand, the country has experienced a huge growth in the number of international schools.  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 foreign language skills and familiarity with the western education system.  The United States is one of the top destinations for Thais wanting to pursue higher education abroad because of its reputation for strong academic programs. 

The demand to study abroad for undergraduate degrees has grown over time.  More than half of the Thai students in the U.S. education system are enrolled in higher education programs.  According to the 2017/2018 Open Doors report, prepared by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the total number of Thai students overseas declined by 3.7% to 6,636 students compared to 6,893 students in the previous year.  Thai students studying in the United States were comprised of 40.5 percent undergraduates, 37.9 percent post-graduates, 12.9 percent Optional Practical Training (OPT) students, and 8.9 percent short term non-degree program students (one-year exchange students and ESL students).  Though the total number of Thai students in the United States decreased over the past few years, the proportion of students studying in undergraduate degree programs increased 2.3 percent.

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.  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 stipulated in the initial scholarship offer.

Leading Sub-Sectors
  • Business Administration, Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees

  • 4-6 week Summer Language Training and Cultural Programs

  • One-year Exchange Program for High School

  • Two-year Community College

  • Boarding Schools for Secondary Education


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 prior to enrolling in their intended study program to ease the transition into a new social environment.  The top five U.S. States that host international students are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois. The most popular fields of study are engineering, business and management, math and computer science, social sciences, and physical and life sciences.  

In order to support and upgrade science and technology and other areas listed in Thailand 4.0 plans, the government allows “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 further opportunities for U.S. institutions to open their faculties in Thailand to educate workers for targeted industries. 

Another niche for potential growth is exchange programs for Thai high school students.  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 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.

Web Resources

Office of the Civil Service Commission(OCSC)
Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Trade Shows
The U.S. Education Roadshow 2019
Dates: October 30-31, 2019
Location: Royal Paragon Hall, Bangkok, Thailand
Description: International high school visits and International Education Fairs in Bangkok, Thailand

OCSC International Education Expo 2019
Dates: November 2-3, 2019
Location: Royal Paragon Hall, Bangkok, Thailand
Description: International Education Fairs