Thai lawmaker says more Thai students ‘should consider US’ as Vietnamese lead in study abroad

Thai lawmaker says more Thai students ‘should consider US’ as Vietnamese lead in study abroad
Bryan Ke
February 27, 2024
Suchatvee Suwansawat, a notable member of Thailand’s Democrat Party, continued his call for the government to help Thai youth as the latest data shows Vietnam as the leading Southeast Asian country for individuals sent abroad to study.
What he found: Suchatvee recalled a time when he visited the United States six years ago in a Facebook post on Friday. He said his friend Dr. Alan Goodman, the president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, a U.S. government-supported organization that oversees international students and administers prestigious scholarships, informed him at the time that the number of Vietnamese students in the U.S. had grown to around 20,000, which is four to five times higher than the number of Thai students in the U.S.
His reaction: Suchatvee noted that what Goodman said was another indicator of the rapid growth of Vietnam’s economy, which meant that more of its citizens could now afford to send their children abroad, such as to the U.S., to study.
He added that Vietnamese students have higher potential in the English language, academic performance and higher scores in their Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) than their Thai counterparts, which results in Vietnamese students receiving scholarships from top overseas universities. The Vietnamese government also does its part by promoting overseas studies to children, Suchatvee added.
The latest data: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics revealed that of the 137,022 Vietnamese studying abroad in 2021, 16.9% of them (23,155), were in the U.S. Comparatively, Thailand had only sent 28,609 students abroad in 2023, 4,836 of whom were in the U.S.
Meanwhile, a graph Suchatvee shared in his post reveals that there are 21,900 Vietnamese studying in the U.S. for the academic year 2022-2023, while only 5,007 Thais have been enrolled.
Calling for action: In his post, Suchatvee has called on the Thai government to take action and to improve Thai students’ skills so they can “survive in a world driven by a race for human resources.” Failing to address the issue would result in more Thais becoming trapped in poverty as they would lack the skills needed “for the future world,” Suchatvee said.
Suchatvee added that his actions to raise concern regarding the competition between Vietnam and Thailand have fallen on deaf ears over the years. He criticized the government for its lack of “determination” and “seriousness” in “developing the potential of Thai children” in education.
About the politician: The former rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Suchatvee received his Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering and M.S. in technology and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He ran in the Bangkok gubernatorial election in 2022 under the Democrat Party, where he finished second place with 9.67% of the votes.
 
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