Carnegie Mellon applies to open Thai satellite campus


The Eastern Economic Corridor is set to get a prestigious new resident as Carnegie Mellon University, a private research institution ranked the 24th best university in the world, has applied to open a campus in Thailand’s advanced development  zone, as the minister of education said he will also try and persuade Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to follow suit.

Minister of Education Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said Carnegie Mellon has submitted its application to establish a satellite campus in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) under a government program that facilitates higher education institutes opening in Thailand if their teaching supports Thailand 4.0. The National Taiwan University has also submitted an application. Thailand 4.0 is the national strategy to elevate research and development, innovation, creativity and advanced technologies to become the key drivers of the Thai economy and society.

“Their applications have been received by the Office of the Higher Education Commission and they will be presented to the cabinet to get officially approved soon,” Teerakiat said.

Andrew Carnegie, a giant of American industry who made a fortune in steel and became a leading philanthropist, founded the Pittsburgh based university in 1900. Carnegie Mellon has always placed a strong emphasis on technical fields such as engineering, along with research and development. It also operates campuses or programs in Silicon Valley, Japan, the Middle East and Europe.

The minister said that Carnegie Mellon’s Thai campus would focus on logistics engineering. He added that he would be traveling to the United States this coming week to meet with officials at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to convince them to open satellite campuses in the EEC or partner with Thai universities on programs.

Before the government program allowing foreign universities to open in support of Thailand 4.0, foreign universities were required to form a partnership with local universities to enter the Thai education market. Thai universities should not fear competition from foreign counterparts, said Suchatvee Suwansawat, president of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand, because their presence will improve higher education and help the country in the long term.

Teerakiat said foreign universities would help give Thai students some of the skills needed for industries crucial to Thailand 4.0 and that Thai universities may not be able to provide.

The need to upgrade the Thai work force with more advanced skills was also emphasized last week by United States computer manufacturer Dell, which commissioned a report entitled “The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships.”

Anothai Wettayakorn, vice-president of DELL Indochina, said that although machines would eventually replace many basic jobs, machines couldn’t replace analytical and creative thinking along with emotional management.

Thailand’s workers, therefore, will need to learn new skills, he said, so that they can work in partnership with more advanced machines and technology.