WU, The Next Lap
Striving to be a world class university
Colleagues and Friends,
It has been almost two years since my arrival in Thasala, Nakhon Si Thammarat, to take up the Presidency of Walailak University. WU is located in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, some 800 kms South of Bangkok. It is close to one of the most famous tourist attractions in Thailand, the Island of Samui in Surat Thani. Nakhon Si Thammarat is about one-hour flight from Bangkok.
On 29th March 2018, WU celebrates the 26th anniversary of its foundation. Understandably, it has had ups and downs over those years. But all in all, WU has been able to maintain its greatest strengths in terms of quality staff, world class research, community engagement, and employability for graduates. Its strength in the area of Health Sciences is second to none in Thailand. The School of Medicine will be expanded even further when the 750-bed Hospital Center is completed at the end of 2019.
Needless to say, WU needs a lot of changes to keep up with the fast-changing world. Some changes here may have to be even quite drastic. It is a big challenge for me, but I am excited about new opportunities here. It will be very different from my previous Professorship and Presidency at the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) in Bangkok. I set a very high objective of internationalizing WU, which will cover all facets of the university– teaching and learning, research, staff development, you name it. I want to turn WU into a world class university!
In the past 20 months or so, I have founded an English Language institute, three international colleges: WU International College (WUIC), International College of Dentistry, and International College of Veterinary Science. These new establishments are key parts of my strategy to internationalize WU.
In the area of teaching and learning, I have adopted the world-renown UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and 60 teaching staff has received training conducted by teaching experts from the UK Higher Education Academy (HEA). All will be required to undertake the UKPSF-based training. Students whose courses are not regulated by professional bodies will be from this year required to sit Comprehensive Examinations before their graduation. From this academic year on beginning in July, students will have in addition to the already refurbished classrooms high tech “smart classrooms” to enjoy. Active learning is key to all this.
The 17 Centers of Research Excellence, covering key areas of health, medical technology, business administration and management, and social sciences, that I have set up since my arrival are now in full swing.
Obviously, all these achievements so far could not have been done without the support of my staff, academic and support. I thank them wholeheartedly for their trust and confidence in me. I thank them for their commitment and hard work. I believe I have enough experience as one of the top higher education executives in Thailand.
And no doubt, I will give it all to WU!
Prof. Dr. Sombat Thamrongthanyawong