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Project Title

Enhancing the Quality of International Student and Staff Mobility Experience: Narratives from International Students and Academics across Different Regions in Thailand

Project Investigators

Dr Navaporn Snodin, Kasetsart University, Thailand (nsnodin@gmail.com)
Dr Tony Young, Newcastle University, UK (tony.young@ncl.ac.uk)


Internationalisation is identified as contributing significantly to Thailand’s aspiration to become an educational hub in Southeast Asia, and since the 1990s, internationalisation has grown to become an agenda of Thai higher education. However, it is ironic that there is a lack of locally based research that focuses on the lived experiences of international people who are one of the key players. In terms of mobility, Thailand has set targets to recruit 100,000 international students but, in reality, the internationalisation of Thai higher education has not yet been marketable on a regional or global scale. It is recorded that the number of international students in Thai universities is currently around 18,000 only. In order to better respond to market needs and enable Thailand to achieve the aspiration to become the regional education hub, to attract international academic talents and to gain the momentum in the global student market competition, it is crucial to gain a clear understanding of the factors that induce the inflow of international people to the country and the quality of experience of international people in Thailand.

Project Details

This study examines what attracts foreigners to come to work and study in Thai universities and their perceived experiences. Interviews were with 49 international people working and studying in Thai universities across different regions, and there were five follow-up focus group interviews.  The findings show that availability of scholarships, word-of-mouth referrals, and geographical and cultural proximity to home country appear to be important pull factors. A series of interviews with international students, who were from many different cultures, from both developed and developing countries, yield some surprising insights including strong research support in some disciplines and that academic life is personalised in Thai universities. Most international academic staff reported freedom and the pastoral relationship between academics and students, poor assimilation with local staff, and lack of involvement in management and administration. Their major difficulties were language barriers and visa complications.


This study provides a valuable first approach to the understanding of the international people experience in Thai higher education, what motivates them to be mobile, what attracts them to Thailand, and what encourages them to stay or leave. These understandings could potentially inform internationalisation policies and practices for Thai universities.

More about the project investigators

Navaporn Snodin

Kasetsart University, Thailand
Email: nsnodin@gmail.com

Navaporn Snodin is an Assistant Professor of Applied Linguistics at Kasetsart University, Thailand. She was Head of Research and International Affairs for Department of Foreign Languages, Kasetsart University from 2013-2017. She holds a PhD degree in Educational and Applied Linguistics from Newcastle University, UK. She was a visiting scholar at the Department of English and American Studies, the University of Vienna, Austria, under the scheme of the ASEA-UNINET Staff Exchange. She was a holder of a Newton Advanced Fellowship from the British Academy from 2016 to 2018. Her research focuses on World Englishes, English Language Education, Blended Learning, Learner Autonomy and Internationalisation of Higher Education. She has published articles in journals including World Englishes, Asian Englishes, System, Computers & Education, the RELC Journal, and co-authored a book chapter in the Routledge Handbook of English Language Teacher Education. She organised a Newton Fund Workshop in 2016, bringing together a group of researchers from the UK and Thailand to address the challenge of promoting value-based internationalisation. In 2018, she organised another Newton Fund Workshop under the theme of English as an ASEAN lingua franca: Implications for language and education policy and practice. Both workshops were funded by British Council and Thailand Research Fund.


Tony Young

Newcastle University, UK
Email: tony.young@ncl.ac.uk

Tony Young is currently a Reader in Applied Linguistics and Communication and Director of Excellence in Learning and Teaching, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK. He was an English language teacher, Director of Studies, curriculum advisor and Head of School for the British Council and the Bell Education Trust, among others, and worked in the UK, USA, Spain, Italy and Malaysia between 1984 and 2002.  He lectured in applied linguistics, and the social psychology of communication at Birkbeck, the University of London between 2002 and 2004. He was Head of the Applied Linguistics section of the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University between 2010 and 2015, and was President of the International Association of Language and Social Psychology from 2014 to 2016. His area of expertise is intercultural and intergroup communication. He has published articles in journals including Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, European Journal of Higher Education, Language, Culture and Curriculum, and Journal of Language and Social Psychology.

We sincerely thank our research assistants for this project. Without their invaluable help, this study would not have been realised successfully:

(1) Dr Anyarat NATTHEERAPHONG, Mahasarakham University, Maha Sarakham
(2) Mr Bhirawit SATTHAMNUWONG, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen
(3) Dr Intira BUMRUNGSALEE, Kasetsart University, Bangkok
(4) Mr Paksiri TONGSEN, Maejo University, Chiang Mai
(5) Mr Pawin MALAIWONG, Thammasat University, Bangkok
(6) Mr Tirote THONGNUAN, Kasetsart University, Bangkok

We also wish to acknowledge Professor Sheila Trahar, Professor Paul Seedhouse, Professor Sue Robson, Professor Steve Walsh, Dr Peter Sercombe and Dr Matthew Breckons who gave the research team training which is the vital component of the fellowship.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the British Academy under the Newton Advanced Fellowship Grant, no. AF160059 and by the Thailand Research Fund, grant no. DBG6080001.

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