Thai students and their reasons for choosing to study in United Kingdom universities

  • Estelle Tarry

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This thesis seeks to consider Thai students and their reasons for choosing to study in United Kingdom universities. Through the literature review it has been identified that higher education is globally expanding. Competing knowledgebased economies with higher education institutions have led education to be considered a market commodity and consequently the marketization of higher education in competitive world markets. This is exemplified by discussion of the United Kingdom higher education policies and the resulting demand for higher education in the United Kingdom. The numbers of overseas students studying at higher education institutions in the United Kingdom is rising, with a notable increase in the number of students from South-East Asia. In its endeavour to increase its knowledge-based economy, Thailand has increased opportunities for Thai nationals to study overseas through scholarships and Government policies. The advantages of overseas degrees to individuals, these include a facility with English language, enhanced employment and promotion prospects, and increased social status, are discussed. A study of Thai students studying in the United Kingdom has been used to explore the reality of these advantages for individual students. A case study approach was used and personal interviews with students and questionnaires with their parents and grandparents. The data was analysed using a ‘categorical-content perspective’ narrative method (Lieblich et al., 1998). The thesis concludes that, despite as a nation Thailand having good geographical links with other advanced countries such as Japan and China, living in an economically stable and democratic country, having excellent opportunities to access Thai universities and having no direct links with the United Kingdom, Thai students still see real advantages to studying at higher education institutions in the United Kingdom. This decision is influenced by social and cultural factors, in particular the extended family, and potential financial rewards. However as a result of studying overseas in the United Kingdom the Thai students experience and have to resolve various social and cultural tensions. They have become more individualistic in their attitudes and opinions, which are at odds with the traditional collectivist values, held by their families and deeply entrenched in Thai society.
Date of Award1 May 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorFelicity Wikeley (Supervisor)


  • United Kingdom universities
  • Thai students

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