Ohec tells 10 private unis to fix flawed courses

98 programmes 'fail standards test'

Supat Jampathong, secretary general of the Office of Higher Education Commission: Lack of qualified teachers (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The Office of the Higher Education Commission (Ohec) has threatened to wind up 98 bachelor's and master's programmes run by 10 private universities after a probe found the courses did not meet its quality standards.

Ohec recently conducted a special audit of private universities nationwide after it received petitions claiming many private universities had offered substandard courses by admitting a higher number of students into some programmes than permitted.

The investigation found a total of 98 bachelor's and master's programmes run by 10 private universities failed to meet minimum requirements.

Ohec's secretary-general Supat Jampathong said that out of 98 substandard courses, 78 were provided through satellite campuses, only 20 were offered at their main campuses. "About 90% of the problems found were a lack of qualified teachers for the courses," Mr Supat said.

If there were not enough instructors for the master's programmes, the quality of students' theses could be affected, so Ohec had to step in.

"The student-teacher ratio must be matched in every course. Every university must emphasise quality over quantity," he said.

Mr Supat said Ohec will invoke Section 84 of the Private University Act warning all 10 private universities to fix the problems by next month.

"If they cannot solve the problems by our time frame, the universities will be told to end the programmes entirely and stop further admissions until they can fix their standards to match ours," he said.

Under Section 84, the education minister can order universities offering substandard courses or operating programmes without proper permission to end their programmes. It can also cancel their licences.

Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the ministry will not disclose the names of the 10 private universities because it wants to give them the chance to adjust.

"I do not think it is fair if we disclose their names as we must give them a chance to preserve their reputation first. The news might affect other courses which meet Ohec's quality standards," Dr Teerakiat said.

Earlier this month, Ohec suspended three substandard courses at Burapha University owing to the same problem. Theses of students who graduated from the three programmes in the past five years will be rechecked to see whether they reach its quality standard.

Meanwhile, Dr Teerakiat said he was concerned about a National Anti-Corruption Network (NACN) petition on Wednesday submitted to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha calling for the government to look into the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) and four companies over alleged price collusion in the 405-million-baht procurement of a surveillance system at schools in the deep South.

He said he assigned his adviser Lt Gen Kosol Prathumchat to monitor the suspected irregularities claimed by the NACN. He said Lt Gen Kosol and his team will travel to the South to gather first-hand information from schools.

"If the allegations have grounds, the ministry will form a panel to investigate," he said.

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