By Wannapa Khaopa
The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) said Thursday that the difficulties surrounding its legal status had ended following a decision in December to bring back its old charter.
The announcement meant 499 students from more than 30 countries will be able to attend their graduation ceremonies, without worrying about the validity of their degrees.
“We have now returned to normalcy after three main difficulties," Acting AIT President Prof Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai told reporters Thursday at a press conference.
He said the legal problems included flooding on AIT’s campus, its public-private partnership (PPP) plan that led to a disagreement among its alumni, and its legal status issue with the Thai government after AIT issued a new charter in January 2012.
“We don’t have any deals with private companies anymore. We’ve also followed the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s instructions to return to the old charter which was ratified in 1967,” Worsak said.
As a result, the AIT’s Board of Trustees – appointed under the old charter – has been reinstated. There are 26 members of the board, however 11 of them are newly appointed, replacing those whose terms have ended, according to Chawalit Chantararat, a board member.
“Now that we have returned to the older charter everything is back to normal. It means the  students who graduated this year were given recognised degrees – the same as those previously given to more than 20,000 other graduates from more than 50 years of education at the AIT. However, those students who graduated in the two previous terms under the new charter, must contact the AIT to change their degree certificates,” Chawalit said.
“We expect to have a new AIT president in six months after the selection process to seek a new president is complete,” Worsak said.
Chawalit said financial support from the government had also returned to normal and the AIT was in the process of requesting additional places for scholarships from Parliament. Other countries, including Norway and India, have also shown their confidence in the AIT and had promised to provide financial support, said Chwalit.