Varsity’s move ‘may damage’ Thai credibility

PATHUM THANI, Thailand (The Nation/ANN) - Giving failed students second chance risks hurting reputation of universities: expert.

Students who flunked their courses are being given a second chance by Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT). Those dismissed because of poor grades will have the opportunity to re-enrol on Bachelor degree programmes this academic year, says Prasert Pinpathomrat, rector of the Pathum Thani-based institution
RMUTT expects up to 1,500 of 2,000 students who have been dismissed over the past four academic years (2014-2017) to apply for admissions interviews by the deadline of May 28.
Many were dismissed because they couldn’t adjust to the environment or came unprepared, so if they got another chance to resume their study, they could still graduate, get good jobs and join the workforce to benefit the country, Prasert said. 
Explaining that the institute had to adjust to a trend of fewer people going to university, the rector insisted the move wasn’t an attempt simply to boost student numbers. “Our student intake each year has exceeded targets,” he said, adding that the re-enrolment move followed a successful pilot project two years ago when 20 reinstated engineering students went on to achieve good grades and job prospects. 
Nuchtiphong U-thong, head of RMUTT Academic Promotion and Registration, backed the offer of a second chance. He said 4,800 new students had enrolled via the central admission system’s first two rounds so far this academic year, with 
900 more having applied in 
the ongoing third round. 
He said the re-enrolment scheme was permitted under existing rules that allowed recent graduates or students who had quit to transfer credits and thus meet course registration requirements for Bachelor’s degrees. 
He affirmed the scheme would screen out those who had been dismissed for bad behaviour.
Sompong Jitradap, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of education, said the RMUTT initiative was unprecedented and that it might be difficult to explain to society why the institute was recruiting disqualified students. But he added he could understand the motivation for the move since Rajabhat universities and universities of technology faced fierce competition for student enrolments under the central admissions system. 
If this were a move to tackle a student shortage, it could backfire in damaging the credibility and reputation of RMUTT and Thai universities in the long term, he said, urging the Office of Higher Education Commission to check whether current regulations permitted re-enrolment.
Last Thursday, Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn commented that the RMUTT initiative for dismissed students was workable in principle as long as it didn’t violate the university’s own regulations. But the screening must prevent those dismissed over serious breaches from getting back in, he added. 
“I don’t want to view this in a negative light as an attempt to boost student intake. I think the university wants to help the youths. ... I’ve never seen any Thai institute do this before. Should others follow their example? It depends on each institute’s discretion and regulations, provided that the quality of 
education is in consideration,” he said.


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