I’ve recently started thinking about Thai students studying in universities overseas because a lot of my students learning English from me in Thailand are desperate to study in a foreign university. Every year, almost 75,000 Thai students go to study overseas. Every day, one of my students comes to ask me for help taking TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS exams, so they can get good scores and apply to international universities. But, for Thai students, is it really necessary to study at a university overseas? Or, is a Thai university good enough? Check out these pros and cons, if you’re a Thai student planning on studying overseas, before you decide if a Thai or foreign university is best for you.
Pros for Thai Students Studying at Universities Overseas
English Language Abilities Improve – The main reason most Thai university students want to study at a university overseas is so they can improve their English. In this case, yes, it’s a huge pro to be able to study overseas if you want to improve your English skills. Every Thai student I have who has studied overseas is markedly better at English than even my best Thai students who have only learned English in Thailand.
Opportunity to Learn About Another Culture – The one tiny negative I often see with Thais is they think Thailand is the best country in the world. This is fine and good but, for most of them, they’ve never left Thailand, so how do they know? Studying at a university overseas gives a Thai university student a chance to learn about and experience another culture and, the ones I know who have, come back to Thailand much more open-minded and a lot more culturally aware. Learning about another culture can be a huge advantage, even in Thailand, especially as more international companies are moving to Thailand and a lot of jobs now require working with foreigners.
Degrees From Foreign Universities Are Better Than Thai Degrees – Overall, degrees at foreign universities are much better than Thai degrees. Even Chulalongkorn University, Thailand’s best university, doesn’t get very high up on the list of best universities in the world. If you want a truly stellar education, especially in subjects like medicine, engineering, computer science and MBAs, you’re much better going to a foreign university. When you come back to Thailand, with an overseas degree, your chances for a very good job are much much higher.
Some Jobs Will Only Hire Graduates With Overseas Degrees – Some companies in Thailand now will only hire Thai employees with degrees from universities overseas. For many of the international companies, this holds true for every position. For some of the Thai companies, this holds true for some positions. So, with a university degree from a university overseas, you’ll definitely have chances with some companies you wouldn’t have without one.
Cons for Thai Students Studying at Universities Overseas
Expensive Cost of Foreign Universities – The cost for any university outside Thailand is far higher than for any Thai university. Even the top Thai universities only charge 20% of most US, Australian or British universities and then you’ve got living expenses in a foreign country on top of that.
Living Expenses Overseas – The cost of living in any developed country in the world is far higher than in Thailand. Any Thai student going to study overseas is going to need at least $20,000 per year in order to pay for university fees, books, plane travel, dorm rooms, food and miscellaneous stuff. Some universities will require a much higher outlay than that and, that kind of money can take a long time to make up after you graduate. Staying at a Thai university, especially for an undergraduate degree, is much more cost-effective. On top of that, most Thai university students studying in Thailand live at home, so there’s no need for a lot of money to be spent on living expenses.
Missing Family and Friends – Thais are very family-oriented and missing family and friends can be even more severe for Thai university students overseas. Make sure, before you decide to study abroad, that you can be away from your family and friends for at least a year at a time. If you can’t, you’ll find very quickly it can be an expensive experiment, especially when you have to quit college and come home because you’re so homesick. I know two students who quit midway through the year and came back to Thailand, because they couldn’t stand being away from home any longer. Their parents laid out an awful lot of money for, what turned out to be, a harsh lesson in how Thailand is just better for some people.
Thai University Degrees Often Good Enough – For many jobs in Thailand, a Thai university degree is good enough and it’s your work experience that dictates how successful you are. One of the Partners in the company I work for graduated with both an undergraduate and graduate degree from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and he made Partner a full five years earlier than is normal in the company. He did it on an excellent work ethic and two decent Thai university degrees. Check before you make a decision to find out if you really do need that foreign degree or, if what career you’re planning on following is doable with a Thai university degree.
There are many pros and cons to consider for Thai students planning on studying overseas. For me, as a foreigner, I love Thailand too much and know that Thais do too. So, I often think how difficult it must be for them to leave their country and family, just to get a university education outside Thailand.
Think long and hard before you decide to go and study outside Thailand. It can be a great benefit for some people but it’s not for everyone. Consider all the pros and cons carefully, especially the financial aspect of it, and then make your decision. But, either way, good luck with your education and here’s hoping you have a very successful career – for you, for your family, and for Thailand.