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UNDP university survey reveals integrity gap among Thai students

BANGKOK, Thailand, 8 December 2014 – Findings from a recent university survey revealed that a majority of students can identify corruption and integrity, but feel they have no other choice than to participate in corruption when confronted with opportunities to gain an advantage.

The pilot University Integrity Survey, jointly conducted by the College of Local Administration of Khon Kaen University and Ubon Ratchathani University, and supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Thailand, was completed by 1255 university students. The survey documents student perceptions of integrity and corruption; how students evaluate situations in which corruption may be present; and what students believe about the state of integrity at their universities.

At a press briefing, one day before International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December), Ms. Marina Walter, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Thailand said, “The findings from this pilot survey illustrate that there is an integrity gap – a gap between what students believe to be right and wrong and what action they would actually choose to achieve their goals. At UNDP, we will use these results as a baseline to work with the Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network to push for real changes, so that the integrity gap is lessened and that beliefs and behaviours are more aligned.”

Corruption is a pervasive social problem in Thailand, one that has infiltrated nearly all sectors of society. Since 2010, UNDP has focused on anti-corruption education and integrity building among university students as a major part of its anti-corruption strategy in Thailand. UNDP works with the Thai Youth Anti-Corruption Network (TYACN), a group of over 7,000 students from over 90 universities across Thailand on anti-corruption activities. Early this year, TYACN initiated an innovative concept of “Refuse to be corrupt” cafes. These cafes aimed to provide young people with a space to meet, discuss issues of corruption among their peers and organise events, will be managed by TYACN members attending university. UNDP in partnership with the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand and True Lifestyle Retail Co led. (True Coffee), plan to open two pilot cafes in Khon Kaen University and Ubon Ratchathani University next year. Profits from the cafes will be used to fund planned anti-corruption activities.

As an integral part of the café implementation, the University Integrity Survey was developed to collect baseline data and assess corruption and integrity risks in the two chosen universities. The innovative survey has the potential to be expanded and used nationally across different universities in the future.

Dr. Peersit Kamnuansilpa, Associate Professor and Founding Dean of the College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University said, “Investigating students’ current understandings and experiences of corruption and integrity whilst at university is an important part of the work that must be done to change attitudes towards corruption; raise the conversation around integrity; and also to tackle problems within the education sector, that deprives students of education, resources and opportunities.”

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