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: 2021-01-15

Overview

The Thai government is working to improve its education system and to develop the technological skills of highly educated workers in order to serve targeted industry sectors. These 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 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 still one of the top destinations for Thais wanting to study 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 2018/2019 Open Doors report, prepared by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in 2019, the total number of Thai students continued to decline by 2% to 6,503 students compared to 6,636 students in the previous year. Thai students studying in the U.S.A included 41.8 percent undergraduates, 35.09 percent post-graduates, 16.18 percent Optional Practical Training (OPT) students, and 6.94 percent non-degree programs (English as a Second Language).  Though the total number of Thai students in the U.S. decreased over the past few years, the proportion of students studying for OPT programs increased by 25.2 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 that was stipulated in the initial scholarship offer.

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Business Administration, Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees
  • Four to six-week Summer Language Training and Cultural Programs
  • One-year Exchange Program for High School
  • Two-year Community College
  • Boarding Schools for Secondary Education

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 further 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.

Web Resources

Office of the Civil Service Commission(OCSC)

Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Trade Shows

OCSC International Education Expo 2020

Dates: November 14 – 15

Location: Royal Paragon Hall, Bangkok, Thailand

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