This paper provides an outline of the TRENDS Model developed and implemented for local development at both the institution and individual level within Thailand. The history of the development of the model and examples are provided to demonstrate the importance of this model in providing the interface between international knowledge and local knowledge to achieve sustainable local development. Examples considered in the paper include professional development training of academic staff, local action research and the institutional development of BanSomdejchoapraya Rajabhat University. The key components of the model are highlighted for each of the examples. Finally, the paper outlines key success factors in implementation of the model. Factors regarding leadership, entrepreneurship, partnership, technological change and quality assurance are discussed.
Key words: Local identity, International advancement, TRENDS Model, 21st Century,
In the 21st century atmosphere, however, it becomes clear that running the University is beyond the ability of any one person to administer. As demand for tertiary education grows the University is planning the expansion of its existing campuses and the creation of many new ones. Recognizing that these new circumstances required new ways of organizing the University, the president embarked on a course of decentralizing authority and responsibility to individual campuses and Campus Directors. Each seeks excellence in its own way but is unified by common standards for the admission of students, the appointment and promotion of faculty, the approval of academic programs, and is united in its pursuit of the common goals of educating students, discovering and creating knowledge, and serving the community. The University President would have the full authority to use the university resources, and the exchange of visits. Only then routine will be reduced to a minimum. Rectors of faculties would in turn share certain responsibilities similar to those of the president of the university. Less focus on paper work and routine will allow the administrative staff to focus more on important issues, such as the strategy of higher education, cooperation with neighboring universities, and raising the educational level of both students and teachers. This will make a difference.
Actually, the university is taking on an ever more important role in the world and has contributed to the transmission, procession, application, and creation of knowledge. Moreover, the university has been very active in the training of high-quality students, the advancement of scientific research, and the overall development of society. Thus, a leader in higher education can be counted as an engine of university development. He or she has to be a thoroughly modern university administrator, an outsider who is respectful of academic values and impatient with academic cant, passionate about excellence and equity, and could be just the right person for the right job (Tinsulanonda, 2006). In this 21st century, global trends, leaders are expected to offer the dual qualifications of leadership and management, especially,a combination of local identity and international advancement.
Rajabhat Universities: the Context for Change
Rajabhat Universities, as it is now known, were established under the name of Teachers’ Training Schools. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej bestowed the name “Rajabhat Institute”, and became the university in June 2004. Therefore, the thirty-eight Rajabhat Universities in eight geographical groups around Thailand feel highly honored and very proud to be the local universities under seven missions: Stable Economic Development; Inter-University Active Player; Leader in Academic-Programs; Innovative Ability with Learning Base; Entrepreneurial Society; Society of Cultural Pride with Global Sense: and Country of Decent Environment for Living.
Rajabhat Universities have identified the strategies which are necessary to make universities fully effective partners for the 21st century. This is a simple face value, but their underlying implications are so substantial that we are really talking about a transformation in our institutions.
First, institutional leaders must work to make engagement so much a priority that it becomes part of the core mission of the university which must be reflected in the full range of activities and in every field of endeavor.
Second, specific engagement plans must be developed and built into everything we do.
Third, interdisciplinary research, teaching, and learning must be encouraged as part of the engagement agenda.
Fourth, incentives must be developed to encourage faculty and student engagement.
Finally, funding streams must support these engagement activities. Partnerships, fees, and internal allocations are all possibilities in developing new partnerships with public agencies and the private sector.
As the Presidents of the Rajabhat Universities’, Presidents have to change as international universities have grown and prospered. It remains, however, the pivotal influence for managing and supporting one of the most distinguished and productive university systems in Rajabhat Universities in Thailand, in Asia and in the world. Now every Rajabhat University offers many programs leading to doctoral degrees, master’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, Education, Management, Social Science for Development, Business Administration, and Information science, etc. These programs ensure the students have quick access to information in Thailand and around the world. The Rajabhat Universities aim to produce graduates with high professional qualifications according to the motto “World’s Local University”.
It could easily sound like hyperbole to say that we have entered an era of change that is unprecedented in the history of Rajabhat University. For most of our history, we were omniscient, omnipotent elders who told our customers – our students – what they needed, when they could get it, and what they would pay for it. Those days are rapidly becoming a fond and distant memory. Changes in technology, demographics, competition, and legislative expectations are all coming together to alter the way we operate.
Increasingly close partnerships with the communities, our colleges and universities offer many important opportunities for the future of higher education. The possibilities are as varied as our institutions. They hold in common the chance to make a tangible contribution to enhancing the quality of life through learning. Therefore, the work of the Rajabhat University
Commission is distinctly different from any that other former years in higher education administration – or a number of very important reasons. The Commission is made up of university presidents who come from many different parts of Thailand, with very different viewpoints. They share in common some very strong opinions and a passionate willingness to express them. That passion is reflected in the work that has emerged from the Commission. Although the president is not the only person who represents the University, he or she is the only person who can speak on behalf of the entire University. The president is the bridge to each faculty on behalf of the academic interests of the University; students, staff and alumni on behalf of their constituencies. The president must see that the various members of the University huge extended family are talking to each other, working with each other, and headed in roughly the same direction.
At the same time, a competition between universities and other agencies is becoming ever more intense. The universities find themselves in a changing marketplace, adult and part-time students have been the fastest growing segment of higher education enrolments. A central theme for the Commission is that universities must be fully engaged with communities. This has everything to do with public confidence and support which we can expect to win in the years ahead.
The Significance of TRENDS Model
TRENDS Model has been created by Professor Dr. Supol Wuthisen, the former President of
Figure 1: Academic practice for sustainable local development (Source: Wuthisen, 2006)
Step 1 –(T) The transmission of international knowledge in all
desciplines to students. This is the basic mission of
the academic staff.
Step 2 – (R) Research and/ or recovery of data in order to relate
the international Knowledge to the local situation.
Step 3 – (E) Local based experimentation of the research findings.
Step 4 – (N) Development of new knowledge relevant to the local
Step 5 – (D) Distribution of new knowledge for development.
This includes the Distribution or teaching of new
knowledge to students.
Step 6 – (S) Service to the local community by implementing the community.
Step 1 – (T) The transmission of international knowledge in all disciplines to students.
This is the basic mission of the academic staff.
Step 2 – (R) Research and/ or recovery of data in order to relate the international
knowledge to the local situation.
Step 3 – (E) Local based experimentation of the research findings.
Step 4 – (N) Development of new knowledge relevant to the local community.
Step 5 – (D) Distribution of new knowledge for development.
This includes the Distribution or teaching of new knowledge to students.
Step 6 – (S) Service to the local community by implementing the community
BanSomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University (2005-2014) and he was one of the outstanding scholars who established Rajabhat University in 2004. He has passed away 6 years ago, however, his theory model is still implemented through a combination of local identity and international advancement for sustainable development. This is worth understanding among the rushing digital century.
The TRENDS Model highlight is shown in Figure 1 as Academic practice for sustainable local development. Sustainable development can be defined as a growth that is made regularly and continuously without any negative effects in the future and that is performed on basis of great originality unchanged while the international advancement is taken into consideration.
TRENDS Model has been identified a number of issues to be considered as there were gaps between local and international knowledge and that sometimes local knowledge is more meaningful than the knowledge from outside. Professor Dr. Supol introduced the TRENDS model in linking tools between local and international knowledge as follows:
T-transmitting of international knowledge; R-research and recovering of data to modify knowledge from outside; E-experiment in local situation; N-newly appropriate knowledge; D-distribute knowledge; and S-services to communities.
It can be further discussed (Figure 1) that it is inevitable that the local people cannot reject the international knowledge, the points to ponder are how fast the acceptance rate of the international knowledge is, and how the international knowledge should be put into practices. The significant factor is the higher education or the society’s leaders who are responsible for creating new knowledge have to reduce the gap. If the gap is wide, the unsustainable development or dependency development will be a result. In contrast, if the gap is closed by appropriate knowledge, the sustainable development will be the outcome suitable for a particular local community. If such gap in all communities is closed, the regions and the country would completely achieve the sustainable development.
Figure 2: A Combination Step of Local Identity and International Advancement
by TRENDS Model (Source: Wuthisen, 2006)
The Impacts of TRENDS Model Implementation
The stages of TRENDS Model provide good practices of the usefulness of analytical frameworks for examining a combination of local identity and international advancement regarding Engaging Students through New Teaching and Learning Technologies; Engaging Community Development Projects; and Engaging Diversity: Bridging Boundaries in International Co-Operation.
Engaging Students through New Teaching and Learning Technologies
Higher Education is very essential for building the future and for providing the community with qualified cadres of various specializations. Taking care of the student has always been a priority. The nature of any relationship with many communities certainly is a critical part of engagement. Through the teaching mission, Rajabhat University has a profound potential to influence the future of what is now commonly characterized as a learning local society. The key, in the view of the Rajabhat Commission, is to broaden our notion of students to include so-called “Glocal” learners of many different circumstances. It is vital to put students first, to place them at the center of our learning communities, and to be committed to meeting their needs, wherever they are, whatever they need, and whenever they need it. Institutional flexibility is an essential characteristic in serving a diverse group of learners across the life span and the new technologies are highly supportive of anywhere, anytime learning. The most significant growth area in Thai higher education will be in distance and continuing education.
It is for this reason that each Rajabhat University created Local Campuses whose students are location-bound, including those whose learning endeavors occur in the workplace. As with all IT [information technology] ventures, students will flourish, especially since new economic models are required for this kind of education. Therefore, the Universities have to serve students, faculty members and staff with million books, an extensive collection of pamphlets and clippings, over 200 professional journals and other current serials and newspapers. In addition, there are video cassettes, computer databases with CD-ROM, musical databases, internet access, reservation room, conference room, Information Technology Center and Library Automation System Services.
An engaged university also will focus on the quality of the educational experience, making every effort to prepare learners for the challenges of life in contemporary society. Certainly, a Rajabhat University continues to encourage the development of skills, but these now include the skills of information science and technology needed by all students. The advancement and growth of modern technology is utilized through language laboratories, science laboratories, library and audio-visual aids. Moreover, the students are provided direct learning experiences through special workshop, field trips and visiting other universities. Given these constraints, and recognizing that in an increasingly complex world the ability to understand, to evaluate, and to respond creatively to challenge and change will influence virtually all aspects of life, this is why the University has to equip students to continue to learn long after they leave us. Equally important, students must be opened their hearts as well as their minds to this task. Intellectual capital is of tremendous importance to the future. Yet so is the extent to which our university promotes character, conscience, citizenship, and social responsibility among those whose lives we touch.
Engaging Community Development Projects
If one characteristic of an engaged university is putting students first, another is putting knowledge to work. Through our research capacity and the expertise of faculty, Rajabhat Universities have tremendous resources for enhancing the quality of life. This has been demonstrated time and again in the role of the local universities in promoting economic development through technology transfer. Furthermore, Rajabhat Universities’ role is promoting human development and also has contributed much to the health and well-being of people throughout the life span. Yet the needs of society remain great: the Rajabhat Commission has identified on its list of potential areas for university engagement the many issues related to education and the economy; agriculture and food; rural Thailand, urban revitalization, and community development; health care; children, youth, and families; and the environment and natural resources. There are others that could be added as well.
The university has to be open to learning from and with our collaborators in the community. Engagement is really a two-way street that should impact the university as much as it impacts our partners. The purpose of engagement is not to provide the university’s superior expertise to the community, but to encourage joint academic-community definitions of problems, solutions, and success. (Magrath, 2000).
In the view of Rajabhat University Commission, involving students in meaningful research, leading in the academic and social areas of the surrounding community and integrating the community into the academic experiences of our students are promising approaches. The belief is that research opportunities give students important experience in problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and communication — all useful lifetime skills.
With the significant collaborative community development and meaningful research as above mentioned, TRENDS-Model or The Academic Delivery System by BanSomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University’s Leader—Professor Dr.Supol Wuthisen is a fruitful educational model. It is a discipline model where the disciplines are the context for conveying the local cultural heritage, for posing the questions that have perplexed humankind over the ages, for engendering new questions, and for teaching the methods of disciplinary inquiry. Students interact with the best ideas and minds, both historical and contemporary, and, both local and international. On the other hand, the TRENDS-model has a more behaviorist starting point focusing on the competencies that the students need and the most efficient and effective ways to develop these outcomes in the student. This illustrates the difference between the goals of BanSomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University or Rajabhat Universities and other University Institutes.
With relation to internships, practicums, and service learning opportunities, the Rajabhat University makes the context for learning real-life situations in businesses, organizations, and communities. These experiences have many rewards. For students, they provide the impetus for critical reflection, expand horizons, and encourage responsibility and good citizenship – be it in the workplace or in the community. For the organizations involved, there is work of value being done, often on a volunteer basis. The University benefits as well from the good will and partnerships such projects and activities foster.
Engaging Diversity: Bridging Boundaries in International Co-Operation
The Rajabhat University has set as its goal a significant, all-encompassing transformation. It is in the process of becoming a “world-local” university. This implies becoming significantly more competitive on a broad front of disciplines as a centre of undergraduate and graduate teaching and learning, and as a centre of research at national and international levels.
A dedicated team within the University – administrators, Trustees, faculty, staff and students – has made substantial progress in its transformation. As the President and his staff work to broaden and deepen this transformation, BanSomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University has the opportunity to take a lead role among Rajabhat universities to collectively address the emerging challenges facing our society. Given the complexity of the world in which Thais must operate, society requires a much higher proportion of its citizenry than ever before to have a university-level education, with an increasing need for post-graduate level degrees, including many PhDs in a broad spectrum of areas
Joint academic cooperation and human resources which are held between the two Universities have been very necessary. The two sides should facilitate and back the exchange of professors and students’ visits.
Rajabhat universities which located in every province of Thailand must increasingly internationalize their curriculum, exchange programs, their student recruitment, research endeavors, and many of their core activities. Rajabhat universities must become the test-bed and practice-field for Thailand and Thai students who will live and work in a highly socially and culturally diverse, and internationalized environment. This strengthens their ties with their regional communities on many fronts. They should act as windows for their regions into the emerging world beyond the immediate environs – provincially, nationally, internationally a world in which these local regions must place themselves (again, with the universities’ active participation) strategically, economically, socially and culturally.
It is apparent that BanSomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University has already chosen to become a university that will play an important role on many of the aforementioned fronts. Indeed, BSRU has the opportunity to become a model in many respects of a new type of university engagement in society as it continues to redefine and strengthen its roles in undergraduate and graduate education and in research. The President is working with the community and external stakeholders to realize our full potential as we fulfill our mandate to better the lives of not only those who come to university but also to better society.
Professor Dr.Supol Wuthisen explained that similar attention is given to the teaching cadres, which are expected to benefit a lot from the issuing of a new university regulation. The University is keen to update and enhance the skills of university professors. Every faculty has a budget of its own and every rector must do his best to send his people on scholarships abroad. This necessitates upon the teaching cadres to open to the world and have contacts with other professors and universities abroad. Every doctor, for example, should constantly keep abreast of what’s new in the world of medicine, and all kinds of relevant medical symposia and exhibitions held worldwide along with the possibility of participating in them. Usually, the University backs such participation if the candidate meets certain provisions.
Internationalization is the critical means whereby the quality of our academic learning, discovery, and engagement can be enhanced, broadened, and enlivened. When we integrate international perspectives, experience, and discovery into our institutions, it expands our capacity to address the challenges of the new century and the needs of the world. It enables us better to serve our students, our communities, our nation, and the academy.
Figure 3: The writer’s presentation on TRENDS-Model, the Sustainable Development of the
Country by the University’s Duties and Activities. (Source: Chaichankul, 2012).
It is worth reminding that we all continue to learn and that learning can be challenging and uncomfortable but with the right preparation and support the result is worth it. This academic article is not only to present the BanSomdejchaophraya Rajabhat University’s TRENDS-Model by the creator, Professor Dr.Supol Wuthisen, but also to enhance the knowledge of diversity in international research and higher education in the 21st century. Moreover, to an eye-opener to
understand the effective functions of mutual understanding among countries and its keen interest in uplifting the university at the Asian and international levels in terms of competency and commitment from whatever level it begins, regardless of conditions prevailing and resources available. These all challenges push the administrators in promoting higher education in the global community as well as developing the international links with appropriate organizations and individuals.
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