Tertiary and Higher Education

Established public and private universities and colleges of higher education are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of University Affairs. They offer programmes especially in the fields of medicine, the arts, humanities, and information technology, although many students prefer to pursue studies of law and business in Western institutions abroad or in those which have created local facilities in Thailand. During the first years of the 21st century, the number of universities increased dramatically on a controversial move by the Thaksin government to rename many public institutes as universities.

There are 170 institutions of higher education in Thailand, both public and private, offering 4,100 curricula. For the 2015 academic year, the universities could accommodate 156,216 new students, but only 105,046 applied to take entrance exams. Exacerbating the student shortfall, the National Economic and Social Development Board projects that the number of Thais in the school-age group 0-21 years will fall to 20 percent of the population by 2040, a drop from 62.3 percent in 1980.

Many public universities receive financial support from the government for research purposes. Over half of the provinces have a government Rajabhat University formerly Rajabhat Institutes and Rajamangala University of Technology, traditionally teacher training colleges.

Some of the more highly regarded public universities in Thailand include by QS World University Rankings, Times higher Education, Center for World University Ranking, Round University Ranking are:
Chulalongkorn University: Programs in medicine, sciences, arts, communication arts, engineering etc, representing particular strengths.
Thammasat University: Programs in social science and humanities, science and technology, and health sciences.
Kasetsart University: Programs in agriculture, business administration, fisheries, forestry, humanities and aerospace engineering.
Mahidol University: Medicine (Siriraj Hospital and Ramamathibodi Hospital), pharmacy, veterinary science, medical technology.
King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang: Best known for programs in electrical engineering, automotive engineering, computer engineering and architecture.
Srinakharinwirot University: Education, dentistry, social sciences.
Chiang Mai University: Political science and public administration, humanities, agriculture, nursing.
Khon Kaen University: First university in northeastern Thailand. Engineering, education, college of local administration.
Prince of Songkla University: First university in southern Thailand. Natural resources, hospitality and tourism, management sciences.
Burapha University: First higher education institution outside of Bangkok; in eastern Thailand's industrial region. Humanities and social sciences, logistics, management, and tourism.

Most bachelor's degree courses are four year, full-time programs. Exceptions are education and architecture that require five years, and the doctor of dental surgery, medicine, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine that require six years of study. Master's degree programs last for either one or two years and the degree is conferred on course credits with either a thesis or a final exam. On completion of a master's degree, students may apply for an admission exam to a two to five year doctoral program. The doctorate is conferred upon completion of coursework, research, and the successful submission of a dissertation. There are at least 1,000 PhD programs offered at 33 Thai universities. The number of PhD students rose to over 25,000 in 2015, up from just 1,380 in 2008.

At present, there are two methods to select students for admission to universities in Thailand. The first method is the direct admission system operated by each university. The second method is the original admission system managed by the National Institute of Education Testing Service (NIETS).

On graduating from high school, students need to pass the CUAS (Central University Admission System) which contains 50% of O-NET and A-NET results and the other half of the fourth level GPA (grade point average). Many changes and experiments in the university admissions system have taken place since 2001, but by late 2007 a nationwide system had yet to be accepted by the students, the universities, and the government. In 2008, the newly formed coalition led by the People's Power Party (a party formed by the remnants of deposed Taksin Shinwatra's Thai Rak Tai party) announced more changes to the national curriculum and university entrance system. At present, state-run universities screen 70% of their students directly, with the remaining 30% coming from the central admission system. The new system gives 20% weight to cumulative grade point average, which varies upon a school's standard. Some students have voiced distrust of the new system and fear it will encounter score counting problems as happened with the A-NET in its first year. The new aptitude test, to be held for the first time in March 2009 and which will be supervised by NIETS, will replace the Advanced National Education Test (A-net). Students may sit for the aptitude test a maximum of three times, with their best scores counted. After the first tests in March 2009, the next two are scheduled for July and October. Direct admissions are normally held around October.
The new test includes the compulsory General Aptitude Test (GAT), which covers reading, writing, analytical thinking, problem solving and English communication. The voluntary Professional Aptitude Test (PAT) has a choice of seven subjects: Thai language, English language, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. These seven subject areas are managed by NIETS.

NIETS clearinghouse
In 2013, NIETS began to use a clearinghouse system. It is designed to avoid the problem of having the same student be accepted by several universities. After completing the exam and deciding on a university to attend, the student's name will automatically be removed from other university databases and admissions system. Universities currently in the system are Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Thammasat University, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, and 14 other state universities.

The required qualifications and number of students admitted are established by each university. The qualifications needed for admission vary by university. Some universities require a high GPA and test score. Students with a GPA and test score lower than required cannot apply for admission to that university. Some faculties may add an aptitude test. It depends on the faculty and the university. Students are not required to take the every subject area examination. For example, the faculty of engineering requires mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology, but the faculty of management requires English and mathematics. This is a departure from the original admission system which requires a score in every subject of the O-net test and academic aptitude test (PAT).

Grade point average
Grade point average is an average of the grades received for courses taken.
21 Thai
22 Social studies, religion, and culture
23 Foreign Language
24 Mathematics
25 Science
26 Physical education
27 Arts
28 Career and Technology

National Educational Test
It is composed of O-NET, N-NET, V-NET, and GAT-PAT.

Ordinary National Education Test (O-NET)
O-NET is a test of basic education. All students at grade 6,9,12 can take O-NET one time.

Non-Formal National Education Test (N-NET)
N-NET is to measure the knowledge to students who are studying in non-formal education at secondary education and high school education.

Vocational National Educational Test (V-NET)
V-NET is a test to measure the knowledge of vocational students.

General Aptitude Test (GAT)
General Aptitude Test or GAT is measure of 1. Ability to read, write, and solve problems (50 percent) 2. Ability to communicate in English (50 percent)

Professional and Academic Aptitude Test (PAT)
Professional and academic aptitude test or PAT is knowledge that is a fundamental to university study.
PAT 1 math aptitude
PAT 2 scientific aptitude
PAT 3 engineering aptitude
PAT 4 architectural aptitude
PAT 5 teachers aptitude
PAT 6 arts aptitude
PAT 7 foreign language aptitude
PAT7.1 French aptitude
PAT7.2 German aptitude
PAT7.3 Japanese aptitude
PAT7.4 Chinese aptitude
PAT7.5 Arabic aptitude
PAT7.6 Pali aptitude
PAT7.7 Korean