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Universities furious over ‘substandard’ ratings

Jan 18. 2018
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By The Nation

SEVERAL UNIVERSITIES have attacked the Office of the Higher Education Commission (Ohec) for publicly describing some of their programmes as “substandard”.

The reactions stemmed mainly from the fact that the description was reportedly based on outdated information and also that most the programmes failed just one Ohec criterion by not having enough permanent lecturers required for a programme. 

“Some of our lecturers were furthering their studies during the years Ohec evaluated us,” Khon Kaen University president Assoc Professor Dr Kittichai Triratanasirichai said yesterday. “But now they are back at work.”

He said Ohec should not have included his university in the list of institutes with substandard programmes because that status could cause misunderstandings.

Earlier this week, Ohec announced that as many as 182 higher education programmes had not met its standards for the 2015 and 2016 academic years. 

The list of the programmes together with the names of the institutes were also released on the Ohec website. 

Following the release, Ramkhamhaeng University rector Wutisak Lapcharoensap threatened to take legal action against Ohec. 

“Our university’s council has already passed a resolution to have university executives explore legal channels to take actions against or sue Ohec for damages,” he said. 

Wutisak said some lecturers had retired and his university had to wait about one year for the Budget Bureau to prepare a budget for new lecturers to fill the vacant positions. 

“Also it should be noted that the list just released by Ohec is not up to date,” he said. 

Of 40 Ramkhamhaeng University’s programmes described as substandard by Ohec, 23 no longer existed, he added. 

“Six others have already stopped recruiting students and we are going to close another programme,” Wutisak said.

Dhurakij Pundit University vice president Nit Petcharaks said yesterday that his institute had already either adjusted the number of lecturers in line with the Ohec criterion or closed the programmes that Ohec had voiced concerns about. 

“Ohec secretary-general Dr Supat Jampathong, meanwhile, admitted that the recently released list of substandard programmes was not based on up-to-date information.

“But we have also explained that the list is based on information from the 2015 and 2016 academic years,” he said. Supat added that the Ohec had issued a resolution to release the list in the hopes of inducing relevant universities to quickly improve their programmes and to enable students to monitor progress. 

Asked about legal threats from Ramkhamhaeng University, Supat said he was not angry about the reactions. He said he would be willing to quit his post if the release of information was seen as a disciplinary offence. 

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