Chulalongkorn University was initiated by King Maha Vajiravudh (King Rama VI), adopting many models from Oxford since he was also an alumnus of Christ Church, Oxford. The commercial areas of Samyan, Suan Luang, Siam Center and other nearby properties belonged to the royal household, but he granted them to the university to strengthen education. It was really King Vajiravudh’s initiative to use these properties as assets to support the university administration in the same way that many Oxford college systems now own their invaluable properties. It is therefore not necessary to deal with the state budget. Some colleges, like St John’s, even own St Giles Street, the main road through the center of town. Others like Christ Church (King Vajiravudh’s College) or Hertford (my affiliate college) also have extensive title deeds and many expensive properties.
According to this relationship, Chulalongkorn was the first university to hold a graduation ceremony, presided over by the king himself. According to our royal practice, the King does not give orders or orders to participate in this event, but receives an official invitation. Chulalongkorn University set an example that many other universities later followed suit.
2 Are graduation ceremonies in England and other international academies more frugal than in our country?
The answer to this question depends on the policy of the university and the individual graduates. Frankly, I’m not going to brag or pretend to come from a wealthy background. However, I spent nearly 1 million baht for the ceremony including airfare, accommodation, transportation, meals and other miscellaneous expenses for 10 days for my family members and my cousins are attending the event. It was 20 years ago ! The lady in the music video also mentioned how her dress and uniform were easy and very practical to wear. She just draped herself properly in the dress, not caring what you were wearing under the dress. Traditionally, Oxford seems to have a different protocol; we have about 20 kinds of dresses depending on the degree you are awarded. The graduate can borrow their appropriate gown from the photo shop which is a concession to take personal photos in front of the Bodleian (main auditorium of the university), but it is not free. If you need a very elegant dress that fits perfectly, you really have to pay borrowing costs or buy a custom-made one. Personally, I realized that my future career was that of a teacher, so I decided to buy one which cost around 500 pounds (around 30,000 THB at the time). Of course, you can bring your loved ones and loved ones to the main auditorium to congratulate you with applause and cheers. Somehow everything has to be registered or booked in advance. It’s not like buying a movie ticket that might be available when you arrive at the cinema.
The university chancellor usually presides over the ceremony, while the university vice-chancellor (rector or president if you prefer) would be on standby as a substitute.
In Thailand, the Head of State or his delegate presides over the ceremony. In the case of Oxford, the university has never been involved with royalty, whereas in Thailand, as I said earlier, the monarchy initiated and is really the founder of our modern education system. This is the reason why the King was asked to award diplomas to graduates. However, due to scheduling issues, the king sometimes appoints his delegate to perform the task of presiding over the ceremony. But the relationship between the monarch and the citizen remains strong and has integrated very well.
3. Is the time of a graduation ceremony abroad well spent compared to that in Thailand?
I can proudly say that I remember almost everything from the event as I was so thrilled to finally be able to pass my test. My collectible video purchased from the college store recorded the two hour activities. But you must understand that the Oxford graduation ceremony has been held several times a year to meet the demand of international graduates. Advance reservation is required.
At the time of my ceremony, Lord Chris Patten, the former Governor of Hong Kong who is still Chancellor of Oxford, presided over the ceremony. It may not be a VVIP, but I saw many police and security guards overseeing the event. The Oxford tradition begins with a Latin rite; there will be Latin readings as well as blessings for all communions in the same way Thai graduates are given sacred chants by monks during the ceremony. Interestingly, for those graduating in theology, there will be a very special session where the ceremonial leader will ask all theology graduates to kneel on one leg and lean towards him in order to place gently a sacred book on each head. Before the end of the ceremony, each individual must straighten their right index finger to join the others in a single group for the leader of the ceremony to bless them with a few Latin words. It made me think of the famous Hollywood movie of the 1970s, the “ET” as well as the “Lord of the Rings” (written by a renowned Oxford professor, JRR Tolkien) when the Supreme King summons all his fellows to join the group. .
At present, the British Monarchy is still the patron and presides over some important ceremonies such as the Oxonian Nobel Laureate Award, funding grants and honored guests for other activities. As many might realize, the best of the world is gathered here, in the same way that Chulalongkorn University has become the best university in Thailand and some of its faculties are among the best in Asia. Each location has its own historical background, so it is not wise to use personal thought, attitude, and emotion to blame others. Please educate yourself enough before you speak, that’s what I would really suggest.
(Amorn Wanichwiwatana, D.Phil. (Oxon), is a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University)