Multicultural mosaic? studying the cultural integration of international students in ‘Thai higher education 4.0’

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Tony Waters
Michael J. Day


The cultural integration of international students in Thai Higher Education (Thai HE) is spurred by a government initiative known as Thailand 4.0, and has raised the educational bar. It is a lucrative move; increased university costs and access to home countries’ courses ensure capable international students now seek affordable degree education in Thailand. Thus, in this paper, we offer empirical findings based on a case study drawn across a longitudinal, year-long investigation. Using examples from a mixed-methods approach, we report a ‘cultural mosaic’ of multiculturalism resistant to cultural assimilation in our setting, which contrasts themes in Thai HE policy. This policy often embraces nationalist themes, found embedded in General Education (GE) courses and the habitus of Thai HE, which impacts the potential to integrate overseas students effectively into Thai culture and society. With this in mind, we question the nature of multiculturalism in the classroom, suggesting a changing phenomenon with implications for Thai HE’s future. Meanwhile, we use this paper to establish the validity of tools needed for critical discussion about learning culture across the Thai HE community as we move towards Thailand 4.0. We aim to describe the cultural integration of a growing base of international students, hoping to inform the development of Thai HE, which could be a world-class and leading platform for education.


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