|Ramkhamhaeng University IIS Building|
But that's all changed.
Ramkhamhaeng University is on another level of incompetence. I don't have words for how bad it is and I've yet to meet another student who doesn't have the same bad things to say.
Ramkhamhaeng's international program is the oldest international university program in Thailand. It's an "ol' boys club" so they know they're not going anywhere and feel obliged to let you know. And now that I've finished a full semester I feel obliged to let you know...
Ramkhamhaeng University Pros:
Ramkhamhaeng has, what it calls, a modular system. I think an example will illustrate this best. Let's say you've taken Thai Culture 101. The class meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. So far, pretty standard. But then you notice the class times—9:00AM to 4:00PM.
What the... what?
That's right, six hours of Thai Culture 101—per day. You've got the class for 3 weeks, then you'll change classes and have another class. There are two things I like about this.
First, you're in class for so long most teachers won't give homework. And if they do it's trivially easy.
Second, this system allows you to take 7-8 classes per semester without much hardship. And with that many classes per semester, plus the summer semesters, you can finish an international undergraduate degree in 2 years.
Using this modular system Ramkhamhaeng is able to get western professors to come to Thailand and teach their classes. Most professors take a semester off from their university in North America or Western Europe, teach for a month at Ramkhamhaeng then go elsewhere in the region for research projects—or go chill on the beach.
In my first semester I haven't had a Thai teacher. A friend has had one, she taught the Thai Poetry class. So, if you're looking for western professors Ramkhamhaeng has a high concentration.
Another thing you'll like about Ramkhamhaeng is their price. They are a state (government) school and, as far as my research has shown, the cheapest international program in Thailand. As of the publication of this article, students pay per credit hour making a full load around 30,000 - 36,000 baht. (Check their website for current prices. Turn your speakers off before you click that link as a video will start playing without your consent.)
Ramkhamhaeng University Cons:
The modular system, while it does have its advantages, has some disadvantages. The worst of it is socializing. Most people who do a study abroad program want to meet new people. They want plenty of time to build those relationships and Ramkhamhaeng doesn't seem to understand this.
At Payap you're in class for an hour and a half, then you'll have some time before your next class to sit at the picnic tables in the common area and meet your friends. At Ramkhamhaeng you're in class from 9:00AM to 4:00PM. You've got a lunch break, sure, but you're still getting a lot less hours than a standard semester system.
Ramkhamhaeng University is out-of-town. If you're looking at a map of Bangkok put your finger on "downtown" and the Suvarnabhumi airport, you'll find the Ramkhamhaeng neighborhood about two-thirds way to the airport. (Look for Hua Mak or Bang Kapi neighborhoods if you don't see it.) It takes me an hour to get there by bus and an hour to get back home. Sure, I could live close but then I'd be traveling the other way when I wanted to go to AUA for Thai language or meet my non-university friends. The location isn't a deal breaker, but you need to be aware of it.
And the worst-of-the-worst about Ramkhamhaeng University is the administration. As I said above, I have a hard time describing how incompetent the office staff is. It's so bad at times it makes me think someone is going to jump out with a camera and tell me I'm on TV. It's so bad it's almost comical.
It makes me too upset to give examples, but just know that your paperwork will get lost. You won't be contacted if something needs your attention—you're expected to know. You'll be ignored when you walk into the office. Your grades will not be available for weeks after your course finishes. I could go on but I think you get it...
The systems at Payap are broken, yes, but they have systems. If you email them, you'll get a response and paperwork gets processed, albeit slowly. Ramkhamhaeng University has no systems and Payap is a beacon of light compared to these guys.