Submitted on Wed, 2017-08-09 17:01
Citing the need for education reform, the junta has invoked Section 44 to allow outsiders to serve as executives in Thai universities.
On 8 August 2017, the Royal Gazette published NCPO Head Order No. 37/2560 called “The Solution for Problems in University Administration”.
The order claims that problems in the selection process for university executive positions have led to inconsistency, inefficiency and obstruction of national education reform. As a solution, the junta head, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, has therefore invoked Section 44 of the Interim Constitution to allow people outside the university education system to sit on university boards.
“For the sake of continuity and efficiency in administration, higher education institutions shall have the power to appoint any person who is neither a government official nor an employee of a higher education institution to take the position of university president, deputy, assistant president, dean or head of any unit equivalent to a faculty” reads the order.
This is not the first attempt by the junta to influence Thai universities. In July 2016, the junta invoked Section 44 to grant the Education Ministry the power to intervene in the selection process for university presidents. The Ministry also has the power to dismiss university executives in cases of serious corruption or lack of good governance.
Due to internal conflict, various universities in Thailand have struggled to select new executives, leaving them without presidents for years. In late 2015, for instance, a group of Assumption University (AU) staff who supported the former president locked the university gates in order to block a new president and his team from entering their offices.
The conflict was settled in January 2016 after the Education Ministry issued an order to put AU under its own control, despite the fact that AU is a private university. The Ministry also appointed a committee to select a new president. The university was under Ministry control until July 2016.
Other universities which have experienced similar problems are Kasetsart, Sukhothai Thammathirat and Burapha.
The junta head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha