June 4, 2020
OPEN LINE is designed to provide direct access to and from Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap University. There will be one session a week through this period at the beginning of the new academic year and the end of the first year of Dr. Amnuay’s two-year tenure. The format for OPEN LINE is to simulate an interview between Dr. Amnuay and Dr. Ken Dobson, Adviser to the Interim President. For this session, responses from various students will be mentioned with replies.
K. Dr. Amnuay, there have been a number of responses to the OPEN LINE interview last week.
A. I am very encouraged by how much attention is being paid to our situation and by how helpful people have been. It is so valuable to have multiple perspectives.
K. One set of responses came from students. Daniel Xiong suggested raising money from alumni and international churches in Chiang Mai to help pay June salaries.
A. I have read all of Daniel’s suggestions and I completely agree with his last line that, “this is not only a financial crisis it is a CHRIST crisis in Payap.” As for the immediate issue of June salaries, we need the Foundation of the Church of Christ in Thailand to provide operational funds for each of the next several months, as they have said they will do. We rely on our friends for specific projects. For example, a couple of years ago alumni provided funds for our athletic field. It’s funds for specific projects like that that the alumni and our Support Committee provide.
K. Daniel also commented, “The education market seems to be shifted from West to Asian, and Thailand has all the conditions to conduct international education for Asian students.” He thinks it is important for our International College to restructure and improve to take advantage of this shift.
A. We are very much aware that our future depends on how our International College seizes the opportunities of new students from China in particular. It’s too bad COVID-19 has delayed the arrival of several hundred students we have on the way who should be arriving right now. International College is just one faculty that will be restructured. Within a year almost all our colleges and faculties will be very different.
K. Brennan C Lee and Earl Midgett are students who are worried that Payap will close the programs they are in because the number of students is too low.
A. I have mentioned that we will be closing programs that are unsustainable, but not before students have finished courses and programs we have agreed to let them start. They can depend on finishing if they stay with us. We may have to close programs or redesign them as interdisciplinary programs, but no student will be told to leave just because classes are small. That’s one of the financial obligations we have to manage.
K. Another of our international students, Jufil Nazareth Badayos, strongly recommended that we recruit some of the international business people who are retired here in Chiang Mai to form a crisis management team.
A. The crisis we need to manage is complex and includes issues of sinking demographics, emerging instructional options (in addition to classroom learning), Thai political issues and relations with governments (particularly the government of the Peoples Republic of China) but also with Laos, Myanmar, the European Union, and the USA. Not long ago we had several retired international business people teaching courses in our Thai and South East Asian Studies program. That one or two semester program is being revised and we hope to be including former international entrepreneurs with teaching skills. One thing that constantly haunts discussions of this kind is the reality that universities and hospitals cannot be operated on strictly-business models. Nor can they survive with incompetent business management; that is equally true.
K. A graduating IBM student, Ricardo Correia Dos Santos, a former Baptist missionary from Brazil, made a number of suggestions.
A. I want to thank him for his extensive suggestions and for his love and concern for Payap.
K. One suggestion he wanted to draw our attention to was for our faculties to become more closely “related to market segments.” He mentioned that he and many recent graduates from Payap, “…are noticing a HUGE gap between the theories and concepts learned at the courses offered by Payap and the current market demand for qualified professionals at the entry level.” He continued, “…the global market demands certifications of different fields of knowledge to operate as a particular professional is a MUST.” Finally he lists a couple of techniques that are highly in demand and software skills that we must begin to offer urgently.
A. Yes, indeed. The experience of recent graduates in finding positions must be high on the list of priorities for our academic affairs staff. For several years it has been one of the open secrets among universities that there are more business administration graduates in Thailand than can find employment. A figure I have heard is that as many as 200,000 business administration graduates are looking for work as much as a year after graduating. Still, Business Adm and International Business Management remain programs attracting the most students. We have tried requiring computer expertise to English for our graduates to make them more employable, with mixed results. But I want our IC to consider Ricardo’s recommendations with regard to teaching IT that improves skills with such things as Power BI, JIRA, PYTHON, DATA SCIENCE, and such skills.
Now, OPEN LINE is open for more exchanges between Payap folks and Dr. Amnuay. Send your questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org for them to be gathered, but we will try not to have your responses fall through the cracks however you send them. The next session will be between Dr. Amnuay and senior international staff who recently composed a set of recommendations during a Zoom meeting.