Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff
Having now spent almost 3 decades of my life helping to build up what I think is an excellent international college [MUIC], allow me to comment on what I think should be the 3 top educational objectives for international colleges in SE Asia. Note that I am leaving out other essential objectives which are supportive of these but are not in themselves uniquely educational (e.g. excellence in administration), or which are secondary to them (e.g. an excellent library).
1. Excellence in English. Although there are other foreign languages which it is useful for SE Asian students to learn, such as Chinese, Spanish and Indonesian, the effective world language at the present time is English. Particularly in countries like Thailand that do not have an English-speaking background, it is essential that all students be encouraged, pushed or pulled to achieve excellence in English. This is vital for their futures and will greatly enhance their employability in an increasingly globalized world. For the minority of students intent on gaining post-graduate degrees excellent English is essential. I am very pleased that my own College places great emphasis on this goal, having establishing both a strong English language department and a pre-College to help those students whose high school leaving level of English is weak. I am full of praise both for the teachers who devote themselves to this work and the many students who struggle and persevere to perfect their English. Over the years, I have met many hundreds of students whose initial English skills were limited but who made dramatic improvements through their own hard work. I always encourage my own students to carry on reading as much as they can so that their language skills continue to improve.
2. Academic excellence. All students need to strive towards academic excellence. Teachers can help them achieve this goal by providing stimulating and thought-provoking classes, setting reasonably difficult and demanding examinations and enforcing a very strict policy penalizing all forms of cheating and plagiarism.
3. Critical thinking. We all hope that our graduates will find stimulating and responsible jobs when they finish their studies. If they are to play their full part in contributing to the future development of their countries and the organizations and businesses they work for, they need to have developed the ability to think critically for themselves (I am reminded here of the words of the motto of the British Royal Society (est. 1662): Nullius in verba (Take nobody’s word for it)).