The 8th Future Talk by NXPO recently took place on the virtual platform. The forum discussed the higher education sandbox with two invited experts – Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yootthana Chuppunnarat, Dean of Chulalongkorn University Graduate School and Asst. Prof. Dr. Poolsak Koseeyaporn, Assistant to NXPO President – who are members of the higher education sandbox working group.
Dr. Yootthana started the forum by explaining the concept of higher education sandbox measure which was approved by the Cabinet on 1 February 2022. The measure allows an establishment of sandbox that provides an environment wherein a new form of higher education can be tested under the supervision of the regulators. The measure will play a vital role in reinventing Thailand’s higher education to provide demand-driven education. The first step to design a new higher education program to be tested in the sandbox is to identify the educational level, the demanding sectors and potential collaborators. Designing a new program entails the development of curriculum, learning assessment and program evaluation. The key to designing a new education program is to start from expected learning outcome and to decide whether to offer the program as a formal, informal or non-formal education and whether to have the program participated in the credit bank system.
Dr. Poolsak presented Thailand’s job market trends based on results of survey on high-skilled workforce demands in the strategic industries in the next five years (2020-2024) conducted by NXPO. Thai industry started to turn to automation even before the pandemic hit. An increasing trend of the gig economy – a labor market made up of freelance or part-time jobs on an online platform – has been observed. These trends reconfirm the survey results that show the digital literacy among necessary skills in high demand jobs such as data scientists, cyber security experts and automation engineers. Higher education therefore must ensure that the education program leads to the development of this skill.
Dr. Poolsak gave examples of the demand-driven education initiatives that have been implemented. Some universities set up a joint program with high schools in which high school students can explore their higher education options and work on an industry project. Some universities started to offer classes on emerging technologies such as AI, data science and cryptocurrency.
Dr. Yootthana pointed out that education quality is of high priority in the higher education sandbox. The program must be designed and delivered by experts and the assessment procedure must be put in place. The program will be evaluated by independent assessors twice a year, whereas graduates and their employers will be invited to evaluate the program as well.
Before ending the forum, Drs. Poolsak and Yootthana invited universities to experiment with new education programs under the higher education sandbox to revolutionize Thailand’s higher education.
Survey results on high-skilled workforce demands in the strategic industries in the next five years (2020-2024) can be found at: https://www.nxpo.or.th/th/report/5532/