Heat-shy uni urges change back to old semesters
Kasetsart University (KU) has called for the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT) to forget about Asean unity and bring back the old academic timetable which keeps Thai universities closed during the hot season.
Jongrak Watcharinrat, acting rector of Kasetsart University, yesterday called for university semesters to revert back to the old system to avoid Thailand’s notorious hot season, saying hot days and heatwaves have a negative impact on his students’ ability to learn.
“For example, our agriculture students now do not have enough water to conduct field studies growing crops and plants, while education students also have problems in their apprenticeship programme because they need to teach in school classes. At the moment, the semesters between schools and universities do not match up,” Mr Jongrak said.
The first semester of primary and secondary schools runs from May to September and the second semester runs from November to March. In 2014, Thailand changed its university semester dates to match other countries in Asean.
Under this timetable, the first semester runs from August to December and the second semester from January to May. Universities are closed from June to July.
Mr Jongrak said the CUPT earlier claimed the alignment between the Thai academic calendar and the Asean bisemester system would benefit students in taking part in exchange programmes abroad, especially in Asean countries.
“They said if Thailand’s academic schedules do not match universities in other countries, students would have problems about semester lag, and an incompatible credit transfer system. However, it has been a few years and I have yet to see an increasing number of Asean students coming to study in Thailand or vice versa,” he said.
Therefore, KU’s acting rector said he would propose to the CUPT at its next meeting that it consider changing back to the old system.
“Some academics may argue that keeping the Thai academic calendar in line with the international one may help promote global links with Thai higher education, but in my opinion every country has its own challenges and internal factors to be considered as well,” he said.
Rattakorn Kidkarn, president of the Assembly of Faculty Senate Chairs of Thailand, said he backs Mr Jongrak’s call for change.
Mr Rattakarn said universities have to pay more for air conditioning if they are open during the hot season, which they can do without. On top of that, several public holidays also crop up in the second semester such as the Songkran festival, which interrupts studies.
It is also hard for graduates, as the month of June, when they get their certificates, is a bad time for hiring, so some have to wait almost a year to get employed, he said.