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Doctor, doctor; give me the news

Bangkok and Ohio universities are working together to train more masters-level lecturers in communications.

Doctor, doctor; give me the news

Bangkok University and Ohio University have started the first doctoral course in communication.

Back in 1994 the study of communications was booming.

"At the time people were so interested in communications study. Many universities here opened masters-level courses in communications to meet demand," says Bangkok University academic affairs vice president Dr Mathana Santiwat.

"But, to teach masters' level requires lecturers with higher-education degrees. No universities in Thailand offered doctorates in the discipline."

This year, the programme is in its sixth class and has already graduated 35 who are serving in the education and research fields.

The course is three years. The first is at Bangkok University. Then, in the second, students attend Ohio to complete their studies, sit exams and publish dissertations.

There is no shortage of academic resources at Ohio's two-million-book Alden Library.

It is back to Thailand in year three where the candidates finish their theses and presentations.

To pass they require 72 credits - half in coursework and half for the dissertation.

Bangkok University alone awards the degree.

Mathana says the Ohio stint is good experience. The study of communications is far more developed in the United States.

"Students have the chance to learn both Thai and American culture. That gives them a clearer, wider perspective which is an advantage in conducting research," she says.

Ohio University was established in 1804, the first higher-learning institution in the US northwest.

Its communication studies school was ranked fifth of 44. Its applied communications programme - health communication and political communication - is ranked 15 of 38 programmes.

Graduates work in many fields in both academia and business - lecturers in public speaking, conducting organisational planning or doing social communication research.

Former student and Oxford Business Consulting managing director Watcharinpan Noypayak says the programme improved her analytical thinking.

"My study was focused on organisational communication. I learnt that personality, eye contact, body movement and distance between interlocutors are related and important in communication within an organisation.

"I am more effective in people analysis and bring the best out of my crew. I absorbed all this by osmosis at school."

The Bangkok University curriculum is adapted from Ohio.

The course is conducted in English and taught by native speakers. Seventy-five per cent of lectures are from Ohio University. Bangkok University selects the rest.

"What we look for is individuals who can deliver a core class that will provide students a good introduction to communications - what it means to engage in graduate work," says school of community studies director Claudia Hale.

Hale says lecturers have knowledge and understanding of Thailand and know what it means to be an international student.

Course fees are Bt2.5 million - including all expenses for the second year in America. Mathana says compared with full-time doctoral programmes at US universities that is cheap.

"Since the programme is two years here, you don't have to resign from your job so you can work and study at the same time."

To be accepted candidates must have completed a master's degree with a grade point average of 3.50 or more with a minimum TOEFL score of 550 (or 213 on the computer-based test.)

For more information call (02) 350 3608-9 or log on to http://graduateschool.bu.ac.th

By Watchara Saengsrisin

The Nation

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