THAMMASAT UNIVERSITY’S HISTORY
Thammasat University was inaugurated on June 27, 1934. The original name of the University, as given by Professor Dr. Pridi Banomyong, was the University of Moral and Political Sciences. Professor Dr. Banomyong wished to establish a university to educate Thai people of democracy introduced to the nation for the first time two years earlier.
The philosophy of the University was marked after the speech of Professor Dr. Pridi Banomyong delivered before His Majesty the King's Regent as follow:
“..... A university is, figuratively, an oasis that quenches the thirst of those who are in pursuit of knowledge. The opportunity to acquire higher education rightly belong to every citizen under the principle of freedom of education…..”
True to the ideas of Professor Dr. Banomyong, the University of Moral and Political Sciences quickly became an open university that accepted everyone with a high school diploma and working people in general. No entrance examination was required, while tuition fee was minimal and textbooks were inexpensive. As the first open university in Thailand, students were not required to attend classes every day, but to take final examination to assess their progress. In the first year, 7,094 students applied to attend the University, mostly from working - class families. At that time, only two programs were offered---Moral Science and Accountancy degree programs.
The coup d’tat on November 8, 1947 had a dramatic effect on the University. Soon after, the University’s name was changed to Thammasat University (TU), and the open university system was abandoned, with four new degree programs being introduced-- Law, Political Science, Economics, and Commerce and Accountancy. Thammasat University Act of 2495 B.E. mandated that each program offer its own degree.
Echoing student unrest and a global push for a new era of freedom, Thammasat University became the center of student uprising in October 1973, with the demand for a new constitution and a parliamentary government.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej appointed Thammasat’s then rector Professor Sanya Dharmasakti as the new Prime Minister during this time of crisis. Thammasat University continued to play a key role in changes and development of democracy and politics in Thailand.
In 1975, Professor Dr. Puey Ungpakorn, then rector of Thammasat University, realized that moving the country forward would depend on increasing focus on science and technology. Given such vision, he then set out to expand science and technology degree programs alongside with establishment of a new campus in Rangsit to relieve the crowded Taprachan campus. After contacting the Industrial Estates of the Ministry of Industry, Thammasat acquired 972 acres for expanding the University to Rangsit Campus, and since then development there has continued well until the present.
More development came in 1994, when Thammasat University launched another regional campus by developing land around Chonburi-Rayong Road, Bang Lamung District, Pong Sub-District, Chonburi Province. This became the home of the Thammasat University Pattaya Campus, dedicated to teaching, learning and research in technology and industrial development. The fortuitous choice worked well for this mission, as Chonburi was already a highly industrialized area.
More changes came on December 20, 2004 when Thammasat University continued its development in Pattaya with the launch of Pattaya Learning Resort to provide greater educational opportunities to the Thai people of Eastern Thailand. Today, bachelor degree programs in automotive engineering and software engineering are offered at Pattaya Campus as part of the University’s long-term endeavor to establish the Campus as prime educational center of science and technology to cater for the growing industrial economy in the Eastern part of the country. Also central to the strategic plan is a long-term effort to achieve sustainable development and make Thammasat Pattaya a truly “Green Campus.”
In Northern Thailand, Thammasat again responded to rapid demands of young people for quality higher-level education. With the establishment of the Lampang Campus on July 8, 1996, students from the Northern part of Thailand no longer had to study far away from their home, but could enjoy the strengths of Thammasat University Lampang Campus community.
The first lecture class at Lampang Campus was held in 1998, with the School of Social Administration being the first to be introduced. The Lampang Campus later expanded to include other curricula, including bachelor’s degree programs in law, social administration, fine applied arts, interdisciplinary studies, public health and sciences and technology with all degree programs adhering to the same rigorous academic standards practiced at Thammasat University main campus in Bangkok.
In 2011, Bangkok and nearby areas were hit with one of the worst floods in the history of Thailand. The Rangsit campus of Thammasat University rose to the occasion, providing temporary shelter to serve the people who lived nearby and were left without food and shelter by the devastation. More than 8,000 people volunteered to give away food, medicine and survival bags to the people from Patumthani and other nearby provinces, showing Thammasat University’s true spirit. Thammasat’s goal of guiding students to the highest standards of ethics and community services remained true, as they came together to serve the society in times of need – giving truth to the motto, “I love Thammasat because Thammasat teaches me to love the people.”
Amidst rapid changes in the world, Thammasat University, therefore, must adjust its learning and teaching pattern and develop the “Active Learning” approach of education. Thammasat University has grown into a fully comprehensive institution offering programs and courses in all areas encompassing social sciences, humanities, health, and sciences and technology. International programs are also available at faculties and international colleges to cater to the growing needs of global citizens for diverse fields of knowledge.
In 2017, Thammasat University has prepared to grow along side with Thailand by designating five-year strategic initiatives to position Thammasat as premier institution that seeks to build young leaders through world-class research and education. The five goals of the strategic plan include 1) equipping graduates with the so-called “GREATS” qualities, with entrepreneurship skills and proficiency of at least three languages, 2) generating high-quality research and innovations that help solve social and world issues, 3) building a far-reaching network through national and international collaboration, 4) leveraging quality of Thammasat’s academic and health services to achieve international standards, and 5) incorporating modern, cutting – edge management systems into the entire operation of the organization.
Entering into the 84th year after its establishment, Thammasat University recognizes all the changes that have occurred in this age and is aware that our duty is not only to produce graduates but also to groom “Next-Generation leaders for Thailand and international communities” with a goal to make Thammasat more well known among international communities.
Thammasat University community remains true to its founder Professor Dr. Banomyong and the ideals that led him to found this great learning institution and cultural icon, which has grown to be Thailand’s intellectual, moral and spiritual center. Thammasat continues to instill in each and every student the desire to serve the country and its people, and move Thailand forward proudly as a shining beacon to the entire world. When a student graduates from Thammasat, it means that student is not just ready to get a job – it means he or she has a sense of community and social responsibility – and a burning desire to use knowledge for the good of all. Thammasat University today has changed from its humble beginnings as a small pond of knowledge-seekers, to its status today as a river of wisdom for all.