My new Chronicle story on Singapore’s first residential colleges


I’ve got a new story in the global edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The headline is “A Singapore University Plans Its First Residential Colleges.”

Here’s how it starts:

Many of the world’s leading Western universities are reaching out to the East, setting up campuses and forging relationships in Asia. But one renowned Asian university is looking to the West for inspiration as it builds four residential colleges using a North American and British hybrid model.

The flagship National University of Singapore will kick off a phased opening of the city-state’s first residential colleges in August 2011. It is a unique arrangement in a place where many students live at home, and those who do stay on the campus are ensconced in dormitories. The project, known as University Town, will eventually house some 4,100 students in the four colleges and a graduate residence.

Thai politics Thailand

Higher education in Thailand: a new story

I’ve got a story in the global edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The headline is “In Thailand, Grand Plans for Higher Education.”

Here’s the lede and the first few graphs:

On the fifth floor of an unremarkable concrete building in the Thai capital, several dozen students are scribbling furiously as they take their end-of-term examinations. The clusters of test-takers do not come close to filling the rows of wooden desks that stretch the length and breadth of the cavernous room where, administrators say, 1,000 people can attend a class.

This is Ramkhamhaeng University, a college with one of the world’s largest enrollments: More than 300,000 students spread across 24 campuses study in this system, say officials. Enrollment is open to all who can afford it, and the institution is very inexpensive: Tuition is roughly $30 per term.

Universities like Ramkhamhaeng are a key part of the success Thailand has had in expanding its higher-education system and enrollment rates in recent decades. While inequities remain, gross enrollment rates have increased from 19 percent of the college-age population in the early 1990s to 50 percent in 2007, and the number of colleges and universities has risen from five in 1967 to 166 in 2008, according to a World Bank report from last year.

But while institutions like Ramkhamhaeng have opened educational doors for some, education observers say colleges in Thailand need to modernize and become less insular.


Self-promotion: A few links

A few links in the name of self-promotion:

  1. Here’s an Emerging Markets story that I wrote about the Thai political crisis and the country’s economic recovery. Note that this ran in early May.
  2. Here’s a brief analysis piece and look ahead on Thailand that I wrote for the Hindustan Times. These items ran on May 27.
  3. I answered some questions for this blog post by Jon Russell about how journalists here in Thailand are using social media.
  4. Austin Bush mentioned (and my Twitter feed) in a May 21 Lonely Planet piece called “Is it safe to go to Bangkok?

Unless there’s big news, I won’t be posting anything here until the week of June 7. See you then.


The scene at Khao San Rd. today

Self promotion: Here’s a story I wrote about the scene at Khao San Rd. today. Includes pics.


Self-promotion: a roundup of some recent stories

I have devoted numerous posts to Thailand’s ongoing political instability of late, often linking to various media reports. But I realized that I have neglected, in recent months, to point to some of my own stories. So here’s a re-cap:

In addition to filing pieces about breaking news in Thailand for ABC News Radio in New York, ((I’ll try to give you a heads up next time a story is due to run. I’ll most likely mention it quickly on Twitter.)) I am now covering business and economics issues in the region for BNA, in Washington, DC.

I cannot link to my BNA stories here since they’re subscriber-only, but some recent topics I have covered include:

  • Thailand’s Map Ta Phut industrial estate issue ((Hence my interest and subsequent posts on the topic here at
  • Labor issues and economic governance in Vietnam
  • Asia’s economic recovery
  • How exporting firms in Thailand are using the country’s various free trade agreements

I also recent wrote a recent story for AFP about Thai rice farmers and free trade. You can see the piece on the Jakarta Globe site here. It ran on March 7.

And, finally, I have written a number of fun travel/lifestyle stories for of late. Here are a few: