Frequently asked Questions
We answer questions from our visitors that come in by email or over Facebook. Below, you find copies of their questions and our answers. If you have question that is not answered by this Web site, please contact us.
How can I apply at a Thai university?
The answer depends: Are you an exchange student, a free mover, or do you want to study for a degree?
As an exchange student (i.e., your university has an exchange agreement with the Thai university), your first way goes to the International Office at your university. They will help you to arrange the details and complete your application. Please note that you usually will need to make a Learning Agreement with your university before going abroad, if you want to get the credits earned in Thailand transferred back home into your own degree program.
As a free mover (i.e., a semester abroad student wanting to study at a university that has no exchange agreement with your home university), you will either need to deal directly with the university of your choice, or chose a student placement agency that does the formalities for you. Such agencies are usually free of charge for the student; they get a commission from the university (e.g., College-Contact in German speaking Europe). Don't forget to make a Learning Agreement with your home university before going abroad, if you want to transfer credits earned abroad back home to your degree program.
As a degree student, the best way is to deal yourself directly with the university. First, it is part of your study abroad experience to get that managed yourself. Second, application processes and policies (and certainly requirements) vary between universities. So don't rely on some information you googled on the experience of others at a different university or program. If you have a good student placement agency in your country, you may use their advice and support. Good agencies have contract with universities and get paid by the university - a good agency would not charge you any money. So be careful to pick a good one.
Nobody answers my emails.
What should I do?
Well, the answer is simple: Choose another university. Although the average quality of international programs developed well in recent years, there are still some programs that are not eager to take foreign students in. There are many reasons for that. The important message to you is: This is not the right university for you. If you insist and end up at a university that actually does not want you, your Culture Shock may spoil a lot of the positive experiences that come along with a time abroad. Don't be stubborn.
What means 'international' to a Thai university?
Good question, as there are many dimensions of 'international'. In the simplest programs it means to use textbooks, handouts and exams in English. There it may happen that most lecturers are Thai, and certainly almost all students are Thai. Thus, lecturers may speak Thai in class to make sure their students understand the stuff.
That's not what we call a good international program. The two most important dimensions for a good program are students and lecturers.
International students come from all over the world. There are some programs at Thai universities that have foreign students from over 50 countries (e.g., Bangkok University, Stamford University). Thailand is a melting pot of cultures, and it enriches your experience dramatically if you join classes and teams with students from Africa, South America, across Asia, and even European students in the same room, in addition to the Thai students, of course. Another side effect of having many foreign students in class is that English becomes the standard language between students. In such classes nobody will graduate without being really fluent in the English language.
The lecturers are another important element. There is no reason to say that Thai lecturers are not as good as their foreign colleagues, but that is only if they studied themselves abroad. International programs are usually more expensive than national Thai programs, and much of the price difference comes from the western lecturers (i.e., for programs taught in English). For a foreigner, it needs many years to become halfway fluent in the Thai language, so there is literally no risk that they teach in Thai.
Finally, there are international programs taught in other foreign languages than English: There is a program conducted in Arabic in the South of Thailand, a Master in German language in Bangkok, and Bachelor and Master courses conducted in Chinese. On this Web site, we focus on programs taught in English, however.
A 2017 online survey on experiences of participants in international programs at Thai universities by the author of this Web site resulted in another dimension of ‘international’ that is not documented in academic research yet.
Students complained about the program administration, or office, to be not international. In almost all universities, office staff is Thai, of course, and so students are subject to the rules of communication and behavior in Thai culture to the fullest extent. In addition, even Thai office staff who seem to speak English quite well, often have big problems when it comes to listening and understanding what the student wants.
Together with the fact that every student is considered to be a dek (i.e., a kid), that can lead to situations where the free-thinking student inquiry meets the command and obedience mentality of Thai office staff. Well, just smile and keep calm. Finally, there will be a solution to your problem. Office staff is neither un-willing nor un-capable. They just follow the rules they were taught to follow.
In other countries and cultures, people do differently. That’s part of the experience.
Which program should I chose?
If there are not other preferences that limit your decision. always go there where most international students go. It will not only increase your multi-cultural experience, it will also help to get over your Culture Shock, which will come sooner or later in any culture that is very different from your own settings back home.