Since its founding more than three decades ago, Mahidol University International College (MUIC) has evolved into one of the Kingdom’s top choices for a well-rounded liberal arts education, including a high level of competence with the English language. However, the plethora of private language institutes and tutoring schools available in Thailand has made it increasingly difficult to choose a program that delivers on its promises and provides the knowledge and skills required these days.
Globalization and the rapid pace of change are having an increasingly dramatic influence on society, including higher education and the job market. This situation, combined with Thailand’s consistently underperforming public school system and Asia’s tendency towards after-school tutoring, resulted in an explosion of educational options over the past few decades to meet the demands of the 500,000 students who study private classes outside regular school hours and contribute towards the 10 billion-Baht-a-year private tutoring industry. Indeed, as of 2018, Thailand boasted 310 colleges, universities, and tertiary academic institutes.
Running in parallel with the established educational system, however, is the so-called shadow education of private tutoring. Indeed, the private tutoring industry has grown to the point where there now seems to be a private tutoring school on every corner and thousands of senior students offering their own tutoring in coffee shops across the country, facilitated by online platforms and social media.
However, as the economy has gradually contracted, there has been a growing squeeze on the middle class’ financial ability and willingness to have children, and student numbers have steadily declined in line with birth rates. This has left many universities and private tutoring schools fighting for their very survival, not just here in Thailand, but globally. Indeed, many experts are predicting that at least 50% of universities worldwide will go bankrupt in the next decade. This has led a growing number of universities to lower their acceptance and graduation standards, streamline the courses they offer, and establish their own international programs in an effort to attract a broader range of students.
However, while streamlining and modernizing courses are certainly to be commended, many of the changes brought about have simply lowered standards in an effort to maintain or even increase student numbers. In the long term, however, this is clearly not in the best interests of the students, their families, or the country as a whole.
Rather than join this race to the bottom, MUIC and the Preparation Center for Languages and Mathematics (PC) have fought hard to maintain their high standards, with MUIC recently obtaining international accreditation and endorsement for its finance, business, tourism and hospitality, and English language training programs.
MUIC’s Preparation Center was established in 1986 to help students attain a level of proficiency at which they are able to succeed in an authentic international environment with teachers and fellow students from all around the world at MUIC. Direct entry to MUIC currently requires an IELTS score of 6 overall and 6 in writing, a TOEFL iBT score of 69 overall and 22 in writing, or a PTE score of 50 overall with a 50 in writing. These entry requirements are higher than other institutions, but MUIC has always prided itself on producing graduates that have the skills to not just survive but thrive in today’s increasingly competitive world.
Indeed, its high standards and quality of education are widely recognized in Thailand, and in the 20 years since it was established, over 6,000 students have benefited from studying at PC.
Aside from regular curriculum reviews and ongoing professional development on the part of the teachers, PC also sought to further reinforce its reputation by acquiring quality endorsement from a respected international organization. Many were considered, but eventually, the National ELT Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) of Australia was selected as the most experienced and professional organization in the field.
Mr. Joseph Serrani
Program Director Preparation Center for Languages and Mathematics
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