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Budgeting for a Thai Autonomous University : The Case of Thaksin University

By Kanchanamukda, Wasan, Dr.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003468628
Format Type: PDF (eBook)
File Size: 2.96 MB.
Reproduction Date: 12/8/2014

Title: Budgeting for a Thai Autonomous University : The Case of Thaksin University  
Author: Kanchanamukda, Wasan, Dr.
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Autonomy, University management
Collections: Education, Quality Management, Finance, Labor Economics, Business Strategy, Finance Management, Authors Community, Management, Bibliography, Economy, Technology, Commerce, Literature, Government, Most Popular Books in China, Law, Political Science, Social Sciences, History
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Publisher: Thaksin University Press


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Kanchanamukda, D. W. (2014). Budgeting for a Thai Autonomous University : The Case of Thaksin University. Retrieved from

What this Book is About? The 1990s decision of Thailand to transition some public universities towards autonomy retained overall accountability for government allocations while internal university matters were to be left to University Councils. An autonomous university in Thailand is defined as a government agency that receives a block grant, operates outside the government bureaucracy and is overseen by the Minister of Education. This includes freedom to determine salaries and staff benefits. The policy objective was to allow flexibility to increase fiscal and academic efficiencies. The process of moving from a finely detailed and inflexible government department budget to one managed according to a strategic plan requires skilled planning. This is the process described and analysed in this book. The book context considered the subjects of: universities as specific institutions; the origins and operations of Thai universities; specificities of the South of Thailand (where Thaksin University is located); modernization of the sector, and university budgeting and financial management. Upon being proclaimed autonomous in 2008 the Thaksin University Council appointed a Vice President for Finance and Budgeting – the author – to introduce corporate systems. Experience therefore informs this five-year narrative, which is complemented by a survey of users of the new systems, and interviews of senior decision-makers at two other autonomous universities, one at a similar stage to Thaksin University and the other created de novo as autonomous. It was found that budgeting in traditional public universities in Thailand is unresponsiveness to fiscal and educational needs. In addition, the true cost of staff employment is hidden if pension and welfare costs are not shown in university budgets and this can bias personnel decision-making. It was also found that creation of independent entities within government universities can lead to financial irregularities and loss of academic quality control, and that such problems can be remedied within a full budgeting and monitoring approach. The five-year implementation process described herein was judged as successful, and possibly as fast as is possible when entrenched staff behaviours are considered. The questionnaire of users within Thaksin University revealed that the allocation of the majority of funds to functional units was welcomed by staff, as were central allocations to personnel development, research and welfare provisions. although central control over expenditure on capital items was criticized. Processes of the new system and their introduction were ranked highly and most persons considered that functional units had generally worked well within approved budgets. In the case of Walailak University, which was fully created under the autonomous legislation, centralization of budget administration brought a heavy load to the centre. It also distanced functional units from their responsibilities unless well-formulated and costed plans arose from them. It did however have the advantage of ensuring consistency with the university’s strategic objectives and of efficient investment of savings. At King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok, which shared a similar transitional history with Thaksin University, budgeting by the planning division included input from functional units. This allowed new and small units to be considered on merit and according to the university plan rather than historical costs. However, agreed budgets could be changed and savings could be held over within the units. Government grants tied to specific items continued to lock universities into conflicts between annual funding and long term plans. It is concluded that the budgetary processes essential for good governance and management of an autonomous university produce fiscal and academic benefits, and that these could be even greater if more flexibility of government grants was allowed. Autonomous universities shared similar benefits and constraints and require enhanced non-government sources of revenue. The relevance of Australian experience is considered marginal since it related more to governmental policy than to governance and management within a university. Nevertheless, the flexibility and strict control systems within Australian universities provides a model for autonomous Thai universities. An example of this full budgeting is highlighted by the above mentioned anomalous costings for personnel, which is often seen as increases in salary costs when it is mainly a difference in accounting. Overall the variations between systems employed in autonomous universities do not indicate one being uniformly superior to others, and all indicate the benefit of communication in the continuous improvement of budget planning and monitoring. Autonomous universities now offer a useful benchmark for government universities with their higher accountability and budget-aligned plans, which are major tools for enhancing a university’s quality and its sustainability.

This unique book analyses the bold attempts of the Thai Government to encourage State universities to move to autonomous governance and management. Systems used for universities that are similar to government departments are often inadequate for the increased responsibility of autonomy. In this book, Dr Wasan details the process of transition, including some pitfalls, over a five-year period as Thaksin University evolved to become ‘autonomous’. Including history, accounting and foreign inputs, the book provides a narrative of the policy and procedural changes needed to make autonomy work. Complemented by surveys of two other universities and users of the new procedures, the book concludes that the continuous improvement resulting from proper budgeting offers a benchmark for government universities seeking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. It is a wise book insofar as it does not claim that there is one path to follow. Those concerned with university management, particularly in Thailand and the region, will find this is a book they keep at hand for many years.

Table of Contents
What this Book is About? 1 Chapter 1 Towards University Autonomy 5 Using Experience from Australia 6 Relative Funding Models 7 National Weighting 8 University Administration in Thailand 9 Chapter 2 How Universities are Different 15 A. Universities as Specific Institutions 15 Universities in Australia 18 Recent Reforms in Australia 20 Autonomy and Academic Freedom 22 B. Origins and Operations of Thai Universities 23 The Role of Universities in Thailand 26 Thai and Global Universities 28 C. Specificities of Southern Thailand 30 D. Modernizing Thai Universities 35 Meaning of Autonomy in Thai Universities 37 The Transitional Path 44 Relative Funding Models 46 National Weightings 49 E. Budget Management in Univerities 50 Governance and Centrality of Finances 50 Model for Budgetary Autonomy 52 Learning from the Corporate Sector 53 Performance-Based Budgeting 61 Budgeting Transitions for Autonomy 66 The Autonomous University 68 Chapter 3 Analyzing the Transition to Autonomy 73 Narrative 80 Interviews 82 Questionnaire 84 Comparison and Discussion 86 Chapter 4 Transition to Autonomy - Thaksin University 88 University Background 88 Budget Preparation Before Autonomy 90 Establishing Transition Principles and Policy 94 Budget Principles 94 Budget Policy 95 2009 Budget-Preparing for Transition 96 2010 The First Year of Budgeting Changes 108 2011 The Second Year of Budgeting Changes 111 2012 The Third Year of Budgeting Changes 114 2013 The Fourth Year of Budgeting Changes 119 Narrative Summary of Budgeting Transition 122 Conclusions From The Transition Process 130 Chapter 5 Interviews at Walailak University 136 Chapter 6 Interviews at KMIT-North Bangkok 179 Chapter 7 User Experience within the University 197 Objective of the Questionnaire 197 Scope of the study 197 General information on the respondents 198 Respondents’ opinions 201 Suggestions 228 Conclusion 242 Chapter 8 Conclusion: Lessons Learned 247 Transitional versus Created Autonomy 249 Utility of Foreign Models 250 Personnel Costs and Outputs 251 Central or Dispersed Management 252 Flexibility in Budget Administration 253 Controlling Autonomous Sub-units 255 Planning Transition to Autonomy 257 Budget Administration Typology 259 User Benefits 263 Transitioning to Autonomy Takes Time 264 Sustainability of an Autonomous University 266 Bibliography 268 Appendix 282


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