Any information regarding schools in Thailand.

We are talking with Dr. Paul T. Carter, a leading authority in the intelligence field on the Second Indochina War and Thailand.

When did you first come to Thailand?

In 2014, after 31 years of U.S. military service.

What has changed here the most?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, I think we would all probably agree. 

What has changed here the least?

The government’s and institutions’ repetitive paperwork to get anything done, and pollution. 

What are you working on now?

Another video about war and security. I taught myself video production and make non-monetised videos to post on You Tube, usually on subjects I feel others have not or inadequately covered. I focus on fact – to let the readers draw their own assessments – and keeping the viewer entertained and curious. I have uncovered some interesting stories. The CIA hired approximately 111 smokejumpers (Americans who parachuted in to combat Western U.S. forest fires) beginning in the 1950s for overseas clandestine service, and the CIA hiring over 100 English speaking Thai young men during the Second Indochina War for U.S. aircraft operations in Laos. I’ve conducted many individual interviews on this. Please go to You Tube and type “Paul Carter Smokejumpers” or “Paul Carter Thailand Indochina War” and you’ll find me.

Where are your favourite places to go?

The beach first, mountains second. I love Bangkok though. Critique Bangkok anyway you want, but it has its own unique, mysterious, sultry vibe unlike any other world city. A highlight pre-Covid (and hopefully again soon) was travelling to Laos for charity work several times per year. I’ll plug an American charity TLCB (Thai-Cambodia-Laos Brotherhood) that funds bathrooms, tin roofs, cement floors, and such for the poorest schools in Laos. Along with 5/6 others here, we are front men who go to Laos to inspect these simple projects to make sure the funding is spent prudently, and work done properly. We volunteer, do not get paid. It doesn’t take much money to finance a new tin roof for a one room school in Laos, especially when the villagers do their own work. The villagers are appreciative and grateful beyond explanation, and honour us with simple, heartfelt Bacci ceremonies when we visit. The homemade, villager distilled Lao Lao, Lao Hai, and Lao Kiaow are of course highlights of those celebrations. 

What are your favourite foods?

Thai food. It was my favourite food before I left the States. I even eat “gope” (frog) but I’m from Kentucky and that’s normal. I actually do a lot of cooking on my own, and finally mastered pizza dough – no small accomplishment for me. It’s surprisingly simple. Or as Jack Nicklaus said about golf, “an amazingly simple game with endless nuance.” I also have a melanger (wet grinder) to make my own chocolate from northern Thailand cocoa.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy reading, researching, making videos, and writing the most. I believe in making history interesting for others. That’s how I spend most of my time, with cooking taking up some of my time. Everything I write, to include my published journal articles, I place for free download on my page. The videos are on my You Tube page. I do exercise daily, running and lifting weights on alternate days. 

Carter, rear in white shirt, with a group of Laos villagers during a visit

You have let a fascinating life. What can you share?

I served 21 years in the U.S. Army, 9 of those in airborne units, went to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division, then 7 years at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency with 4 civilian tours in Iraq. I used my GI bill to get masters and PhD degrees at Chulalongkorn University. I got off a plane in Bangkok in 2014 not knowing a soul in Thailand, nor ever having even been to the region. I started here from scratch.

What advice to you have for anyone moving to Thailand?

The two most important things are patience. The third is accepting you’ll never understand the Thai way. And that’s okay. You are an outsider and always will be, just embrace it. Sure, we expats like to bitch, it’s what we enjoy apparently, but don’t take the bitching seriously. If it’s that bad, move somewhere else.

What do you see is the future for yourself?

There is an old saying, “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” For now, I’ll just keep reading and writing. 

Carter lecturing at the Siam Society, Bangkok, where he has conducted three historical presentations

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Great institutions and openness help city retain top spot ahead of rivals such as Tokyo and Munich.

London remains the best city in the world to be a university student, according to an international ranking of higher education centres that placed it ahead of rivals such as Tokyo, Boston and Berlin.

The capital retained top spot for the third year running despite low marks for affordability, thanks to the presence of world-leading institutions such as Imperial College and King’s College London, and high ratings for its openness to international students and graduate career opportunities.

Munich came second, while Tokyo and Seoul were tied for third place ahead of Berlin, Melbourne, Zurich and Sydney. Paris, Montreal and Boston tied for ninth place.

The city rankings created by the education analysts QS Quacquarelli Symonds are based on its own league tables as well as surveys of 85,000 current and prospective students around the world. They cover cities with a population of at least 250,000 and two or more universities placed in the QS world university rankings.

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The best UK universities 2021 – rankings
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Current students studying in London rated the British capital very highly for “outstanding cultural, economic, and educational opportunities”, although the city was only rated 15th – below Auckland and Montreal – for desirability among prospective students.

Ben Sowter, QS’s director of research, said: “With two of the world’s 10 best universities situated in the city, London remains a world-leading educational hub. However, increasing Covid cases and lingering Brexit effects may serve to undermine London’s privileged position.”

Elsewhere in the UK, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester made the top 30 out of the 115 eligible cities. Coventry did extremely well for “student mix”, ranked second only to Melbourne for the proportion of domestic and international students in the local population, as well as tolerance and inclusion.

The highest-ranked US centre was Boston, thanks to the proximity of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. But US cities suffered from high affordability, with Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco the worst overall based on cost of living, tuition fees and the Economist’s “Big Mac” index, which uses the local cost of the hamburger as a proxy for relative costs.

QS also noted that US cities “are suffering from a systemic decline” in their desirability ratings, which includes metrics such as pollution, crime, safety and corruption as well as a student survey.

The most desirable city in which to study was Tokyo, followed by Toronto and Zurich. Boston could only manage 26th, while Durham, North Carolina – close to the high-ranking University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University – was 85th.

Monterrey in Mexico and Almaty in Kazakhstan were rated as the least desirable places to study. The most affordable centre was the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, ahead of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan in Russia

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Expat Life had the opportunity to meet the incoming Principal of Rugby School Thailand (RST) Mr. Bruce Grindlay, who takes up his position on the 1st August 2021, over a Zoom call from his current school Sutton Valence School in the Garden of England in Kent.

He is naturally looking forward to taking up his position at Rugby School Thailand (RST) but has sadly been unable to visit Thailand over the last year, so has had ongoing Zoom calls with his colleagues and the School board. 

I asked him why it was thought necessary for the School to appoint an overall Principal and he explained that due to the rapid growth that the now, three schools – Pre Prep, Prep and Senior, student numbers will be up to over 900 when they return in September. It was decided by the board to appoint an overall Principal to continue the drive to the target occupancy of 1,400 students and to create consistency across every child’s educational journey at Rugby School Thailand (RST). It will also allow the School to work towards its vision to be a truly British boarding school in Asia focused on educating the whole person. In the first year, Mr. Grindlay will also take responsibility for the Senior School as Mr. Alan Ball has now returned to Australia. After a year Rugby School Thailand (RST) will appoint a Head of Senior School allowing Bruce to focus on more strategic developments. 

Coming into the role will allow the Teepsuwan family to take a step back and look after other projects at Wisdom Park and take on a more non-executive, governance role.

Its 80 acre campus (190 rai) is approximately 110km (68 miles) from Bangkok and 20km (12 miles) outside Pattaya. Rugby School Thailand (RST) offers a British curriculum to both Thai and international students. It opened in September 2017, the Prep and Pre-Prep school opened for Pre-Nursery (2 year olds) up to Year 6 (10/11 year olds). Years 7-13 opened in September 2018. Tuition fees range from 439,900 – 827,400B per year. Boarding fees are 364,300B per annum for weekly boarding and 435,000B per annum for full boarding.

Mr. Grindlay was born in 1967 and is a renowned British organist, chorister, conductor, teacher and experienced Headmaster with the full complement of skills to drive the School forward. His specialist subject of Music shows Rugby School Thailand (RST)‘s desire to deliver its ethos:The whole person; the whole point”. They want their students to be highly successful in all the academic subjects, but also to develop their characters and vital soft skills through sports, culture, creativity and the arts. He repeated the words that I had heard from Nigel Westlake that ‘he intended making Rugby School Thailand (RST) the best international school in Asia and one of the best boarding schools in the world’. 

He believes in the boarding concept and is a fan of weekly boarding where the children are dropped off at School on a Sunday evening and collected or driven home on Friday to spend time with the family. Boarding creates the time and space for so much to take place outside of the classroom whether that be academic enrichment and support or activities, sport, drama, design or any number of clubs. Weekly boarding really is the best of both worlds: weekends with the family but the working week packed full of opportunities at the School without time wasted on the daily commute.  

Rugby School UK was founded in 1567 as a provision in the will of Lawrence Sheriff, who had made his fortune supplying groceries to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Established 454 years ago it has 16 Houses. It was one of the nine prestigious schools investigated by the Clarendon Commission of 1861 – 64 (the other schools being Eton, Charterhouse, Harrow, Shrewsbury, Westminster, Winchester and two day schools: St Paul’s and Merchant Taylors).

There is an impressive list of Rugby alumni in the ecclesiastical, armed forces, political and foreign service appointments and a former Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.

Bruce’s father was an engineer in the paper industry and his mother was a chemistry teacher and he was educated at King’s College, Wimbledon in London. His father was then posted to Canada where he attended St. George’s School for Boys in Vancouver.

He met his wife, Lilla, when they were both at Cambridge and she is currently Head of English at The King’s School Canterbury and the author of an academic book, Queen of Heaven. They have two grown up children now finishing their studies in the UK. 

After graduating from Emmanuel College, Cambridge he took a postgraduate degree and gained a Bachelor of Music at Cambridge University. He was Director of Chapel Music and a Boarding Housemaster at Bedford School between 1994 – 2001 before moving to Christ’s Hospital as Director of Music with a large music staff of 50 plus, the experience, he remarked, was “like running a school within a school”. In 2009 he moved to Sutton Valence as Headmaster where he has been for the last 12 years and had the experience of assisting in the creation of a sister school in China in 2017.

He sees his role at Rugby School Thailand (RST) to blend the history and heritage of a British public school with the excellent and state of the art facilities that the School has built in the wide open countryside of Chonburi. He sees the potential to deliver a world class and unique education and was drawn by the owning family’s commitment to education evinced through their investment in this remarkable School. I remarked that ‘whenever I visit it is not like an international school but it reminds me of an international convention centre or business premises – the facilities are just so impressive’. 

He wants to develop students and staff and is driven by helping people achieve the very best that they can. He is keen to focus on skills acquisition and developing specific dispositions in the students so that they will compete in an ever widening global workplace. A workplace that will be heavily reliant on technology, but still needs the human skills of collaboration, communication, creativity and problem solving. These vital, uniquely human, transferrable skills are frequently learnt outside of the classroom and that is why the extended boarding day is so good at allowing these to flourish and develop.

Rugby School Thailand (RST) has recently achieved COBIS (Council of British International Schools) certification and in the process was given two Beacon status awards for its boarding provision and enrichment opportunities. An amazing achievement for a School that has only been in existence for four years. 

The next chapter of Rugby School Thailand (RST)’s development is going to be an exciting time and certainly the energy and experience Bruce brings to this new role can only assist in moving this School to ever greater heights.

Rugby School Thailand (RST)

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Expat Life had the opportunity to interview Tim Bulow who is the COO of Minor Education in Bangkok. He heads the Asian Institute of Hospitality Management (AIHM), Thailands newest hospitality institute which combines the academic excellence of Les Roches in Switzerland with a uniquely Asian outlook.
Tim nice to meet you – please tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in the U.S. but have spent the last 20 years working around the world. I earned an MBA at Harvard Business School which led to my career in international business. I started working for multinationals like PepsiCo and General Mills and was promoted to a series of roles in strategy, marketing and general management. I moved into the education sector about 10 years ago.
I come from a family of educators – my father was a professor and my mother a school administrator. I have a deep love of learning which was nurtured by my time with a passionate and international community at Harvard. I am a big believer in the importance of education and its role in the positive development of students, academically and socially, and most importantly in their becoming responsible citizens of their communities.
How did you end up in Thailand?

This is our second time living in Thailand. I have been based mostly in Asia and Latin America over my career, and travelled to over 70 countries, but I found myself being drawn back to South East Asia. My wife and I very much enjoy living in Bangkok and raising our kids in a multicultural environment. We have been here for three years now and have no plans to move. It is also exciting being based in South East Asia which is such a key driver of the global economy.

Please tell us about AIHM.

AIHM is the vision of Minor International’s founder, Mr. William E. Heinecke who’s always support education projects in Thailand at all levels (primary school, high school, etc). A big part of Minor’s success is the education, training, experience and vision of our team members.

AIHM is founded by Minor Hotels, one of the world’s fastest growing hospitality companies, with properties across six continents under a portfolio of both homegrown and international brands – Anantara, Avani, Elewana, Oaks, NH Hotels and Tivoli. Our hotels regularly win awards from leading publications such as Conde Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure and DestinAsian.
We have partnered with Les Roches, one of the top three hospitality institutes in the world, to bring superior education to Asia. Les Roches is known for its Swiss style academic rigour, personalised education paths, and hands on learning in small classes. Students benefit from internships at luxury hotel chains, global businesses and entrepreneurial startups, and are much sought after once they graduate.
What makes AIHM unique?
There are several key differentiators in our dynamic learning programme. Our international lecturers have real world experience in the hospitality sector and in the classroom and we have access to hotel executives both in corporate and hotel operations who will help round out students learning experiences at AIHM through lectures and guest seminars. Using our business network, we also have lecturers and advisors from the food and beverage, entrepreneurship and emerging disciplines.
Our students are based at our campus at Riverside Anantara and Avani+ hotels, which immerses them in day-to-day operations and gives them access to top executives. Internships can take place both at a Minor hotel and a company of the students choosing, not only Minor Hotels, anywhere in the world. This broadens their experience and outlook.
Our partnership with Les Roches means our students follow the same curriculum as in Switzerland, and lecturers are trained and certified by Les Roches. Students also have the option of exchanges at Les Roches campuses in Switzerland and Spain – and vice-versa, Les Roches students there can come to Thailand and study at AIHM.
Being based in Asia gives our students a unique edge – this is the area of the world to be in in terms of hospitality. We are training students to be next generation leaders and give back to their communities.
What is the biggest challenge facing the education industry today?
Obviously Covid-19 has interrupted many students access to education, not just in Thailand but around the world. Some of them have also experienced hardship. As educators, we need to evolve to a new normal, particularly for the more practical aspects of hospitality. Many of our student services are now digital, and our students have adapted quickly – they have learnt resilience and new ways to communicate, work together and solve problems.
What do you see for the future of hospitality?
We will recover. There is enormous pent up desire for travel, connection and recreation, and the industry will bounce back quickly and continue to grow, particularly in Asia. Our first cohort of students is graduating in 2024, and there will be an increased demand for their talents. They are a very enthusiastic group with a passion to learn and big dreams for the future. I have full confidence that a great many opportunities will be waiting for them, and our students of course benefit from an extensive network of alumni and hoteliers to help them in their careers.
The Asian Institute of Hospitality Management has two campuses, one in Bangkok and one in Pattaya. Students are based in some of the worlds leading tourism destinations. The international Bachelor of Business Administration in Global Hospitality Management takes three-and-a-half years to complete, with the next intake in September 2021. For more information, visit
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“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”

The reality of climate change is hitting us harder than we ever imagined, as I am writing this, I am watching news coverage on a glacier in the Uttarakhand Himalayan region of India which burst two days ago. The remoteness of where this happened means no-one has a definitive answer, so far. 

Experts say one possibility is that massive ice blocks broke off the glacier due to a temperature rise, releasing a huge amount of water. We are already seeing the possibilities of how inhabitable our planet will become in the lifetime of a teenager. The point is we are neck deep in an existential crisis we created and the question on whether we can mitigate climate change remains to be answered.

The food we eat has a huge impact on the planet and I was curious to understand the future of sustainable agriculture and plant based meat in Thailand. Can you imagine a day meat might be replaced by plant based meat? There are more and more plant based meat options in the meat section, I never thought I would see vegetables in the meat section. I strongly believe that the next ten years will define humanity, human action has caused climate change and human action also has the power to mitigate climate change. We have to choose between action and inaction and what we choose will define our future.

I met four industry leaders who are passionate about plant based meat and sustainable agriculture to understand the challenges of replacing meat with plant based meat in Thailand, a culture which has deep rooted connections to eating meat. Here is an excerpt from my Interview with them:

Root the future : A NGO for news and articles on plant based and sustainability related projects in Thailand.

Expat Life: What do you think are the main challenges for plant based meat in Thailand ?

Root The Future: The main challenges for plant based meat In Thailand are awareness, price point and accessibility. The facts and figures about plant based food and the environment have only recently emerged in social dialogue here in Thailand so it’s a very new thing that many people don’t know about. 

The second thing, is that because of how new the plant based movement is here, there has been no time for most companies to scale up and start selling these products at a competitive price compared to meat, so the price point can still be relatively high for plant based meat (although plant based whole food is still some of the cheapest food the world over). 

And thirdly, accessibility. This is a big one. For the folks who are aware of plant based food and it’s numerous benefits, and are willing to pay for it, it is still sometimes not accessible enough to make it convenient for people to purchase regularly (again talking about plant based alternatives like meat whole foods are incredibly easy and cheap to access).

Expat Life: Can it find a wider and a more mainstream market in Thailand in 2021?

In 2020 we saw the plant based food trend absolutely skyrocket. More people are sharing information and fast becoming aware. In 2020 we also saw a huge amount of plant based businesses start up. With the state of our environment and the ease of information sharing via social media, the only way is up. The movement is snowballing. Because this isn’t just a trend or a fad – it has real and impactful consequences for our planet, the animals and our health, there is no chance of it slowing down. That means in 2021 we expect to see more plant based business, more information and education, more accessibility and competitive price points for plant based food. 

We are very excited for 2021 and are so inspired by this movement here in Thailand. We have no doubt that Thailand has a real chance of becoming the next big leader in plant based food.

Let’s plant meat: A plant based meat startup from Chiang Mai which was recently recognised as one of the winners of future food Asia’s plant protein award. I spoke to Smith Taweelerdniti, CEO of Let’s Plant Meat to understand if his brand can show the world that Thailand can be a world leader in plant based meat.

Expat Life: What do you think are the main challenges for creating a plant based meat market in Thailand?

Smith Taweelerdniti : Meat is cheap and easy to buy here in Thailand. Meat is deeply ingrained in our daily meal. To convince people to switch, we have to make it as tasty as the animal meat and roughly at the same price, too. Government put price control on animal meat, to help farmers, so retailers accept selling at no margin while making a profit from shampoos or tissue paper. Plant based meat does not have direct or indirect subsidy like that, so to keep price affordable is now a challenge.

Expat Life: How do you reach out to a market which does not care about ethical or environmental factors? The real challenge is to ensure plant based meat becomes the norm rather than niche, right?

Smith Taweelerdniti: I agree with you. But like many new things, people will adopt in tranches. First we must talk to early adopters like vegan or vegetarian groups, then to “sustainability and health conscious” consumers. From there, we hope to create enough momentum for restaurants to listen and want to offer more plant based meat options, then to reach late adopters will be less challenging.

Expat Life: Which product is your bestseller and why?

Smith Taweelerdniti: The burger is our best seller at the moment but our newly launched minced meat may have a bigger audience in Asia. Our burger is popular because it tastes very good at a significant saving compared to imported brands. Our minced meat still needs some time to grow the sales. We have added over 300 supermarkets across Thailand and convenience in buying will allow the products to grow faster

Golden State: A California coast inspired 100% vegan seafood restaurant in Bangkok, it is the brainchild of Chef Eric who is passionate about creating unique artistic plant based seafood menus using fresh local ingredients .They also sell vegan frozen seafood products for cook-at-home.

Expat Life : Eating seafood is so deep rooted in Thai culture, how has the response to your plant based seafood been?

Eric: The response to our new vegan seafood has been fantastic, beyond our expectations. It may be true that seafood is embedded in Thai culture however we have found that most customers want only the taste and feel of seafood without having to eat the animal itself. Sure, Thai customers want squid, calamari and crab etc, and we are happy and proud to offer such dishes made with plants only. It is not only Thai customers but really everyone around the world that “wakes up” after trying a few good vegan meals. In terms of good health and good karma, there is no comparison. Pure veg dishes just make you feel better in every way. Innovative chefs and food scientists are creating amazingly real plant based dishes. Soon there will simply be no reason to continue eating animals

Expat Life: Has it been challenging as a chef to cook plant based seafood ?

Eric: It has been challenging yes, but it is the most fun thing in the world to choose an existing and beloved seafood dish and try to reach up to that height of taste and feel. Why do we try to recreate a seafood dish? The true answer is that it is just fun. Can I fool you? Will you love it? Will you feel totally satisfied, but also lighter and fresher after our meal? Yes.

Expat Life: Is your focus on recreating the taste of tuna etc. or creating a completely new taste? 

Eric: We try to land somewhere in the middle. We want our dishes to simulate tuna, for example, but also we want to improve upon that taste. Some people are turned off to real seafood because the taste is too strong. So we have creative space to improve upon that. Conceptually, our dishes are like seafood but they also eat like pure veg dishes. We are proud to offer great taste and peace of mind.

Happy Grocers was founded by three people who are passionate about saving the environment and empowering farmers.I spoke to Moh who is the cofounder, she has a B.A. in Social Entrepreneurship (Sustainability and Marketing).They deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to your door! They are transparent, traceable and plastic free.

Expat Life:You sell sustainable fish and chicken along with your vegetables, can you please explain what exactly is sustainable chicken and fish?

Moh: The chickens we sell are raised in a big facility with 5 chickens per one square metre. This is where they eat, sleep, and lay eggs. The outside part of the facility is a big open space for the chickens to walk around, look for worms and plants in nature. The chickens are very happy and stress free. Our fish is from a small community in Chompun and they follow the guidelines from the Marine Stewardship Council(MSC). We ensure that the fish population can continue indefinitely as well as remain productive and healthy. We also ensure that the fishing activity is managed carefully so that other species and habitats within the ecosystem remain healthy. We are completely against unsustainable fishing practices that not only distort the ecosystem but also support modern day slavery. There are over 20.9 million people all over the world who work under forced labour and slave trade in the fishing industry and we want to empower fishermen and educate people to only buy sustainable fish.

Expat Life: Given all the conditions needed for sustainable fish and chicken, the quantity must be limited and the price obviously higher?

Moh: That is right, our focus is to cater to a small market and we hope more small entrepreneurs can do the same business model like ours to create more awareness and empower local fishermen in small communities.Having said that, sustainable fish is very limited and cannot feed the entire population but we hope mindful consumers start questioning the supply chain of their food and choose the most sustainable alternative available.

Expat Life: Do you have any advice for consumers who want to eat a sustainable diet?

Moh: The best option is to support local small businesses which are transparent. Most small local businesses are happy to offer a tour of their farm because they are proud of the living conditions of the farmers and the way they grow their food. Once people care about where their food comes from and understand the supply chain, it will help farmers get empowered and eventually increased demand for sustainable food can bring down the prices.

I often wonder what the future of sustainable agriculture is, is it lab based meat, plant based meat or both? Well, it is safe to say that we will be witnessing a lot of change in the next ten years. Will all our efforts to mitigate climate change work? It is very early to answer that but I sure hope we can all become mindful consumers and vote for the planet through our wallet power.

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Ten tips for getting into the best university

Helping to get a daughter or son into the right university should be looked at as a campaign; a series of stages over the last two years in school with a single goal in mind. Year One is the step up from IGCSE and the major goals are excellent marks and the development of a broad and unique CV. It is also a time to make important decisions with school about Higher Education plans so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Year Two is all about hard work, maximising exam grades and hitting all the targets set. A vital part of the campaign is leaning about the organisations that manage the university admissions process around the world. No one should rely just on the school, other children, those well meaning friends or even parents hoping they know enough based on their own experience. It is abou setting objectives, gathering information, collating facts and making positive but realistic plans. The admissions process is ever changing and always presents new opportunities and challenges.

It is not like it was. Change is everywhere in Higher Education and different institutions offer different things. Also a degree does not necessarily mean a job anymore. Ten per cent of university leavers remained unemployed after graduation and on average nearly 70 graduates are vying for every job. Having said that the vast majority are still getting jobs and graduates earn more than non-graduate in almost every instance. The difference in gross hourly earnings between graduates and those educated to A level or equivalent remained high at 47% and the average lifetime earnings of a graduate is millions of Baht more than those of a non- graduate with two A levels. Getting the best degree from the best university are very important steps to employment and greater security.

Getting to the right university remains a complex matter and there is greater global competition, made even more opaque with the challenges of Covid-19. Universities struggle to find ways to choose candidates and there is a cold hard fact to keep in view: it is getting harder to get in to good universities. Applicants need higher grades and the process is more complicated. In the last 5 years the number of universities requiring students to achieve top grades in their A levels has tripled. A typical Russell Group university in the UK or Ivy League one in the USA may have 1,500 applicants for just 50 places on a course. When you are looking at universities and working out which ones are good, better than others and so on, it isn’t always as simple as it looks. Everyone knows the names of the very top ones but bear in mind that the star rating and league table position of the university is based on the quality of their research, not the undergraduate degrees. A typical undergraduate will have little or no contact with the research side of university as part of their first degree. This means there is a disconnect (in some cases) between the reputation as defined by the league table and the student experience as felt by the undergraduate. In addition to the headline grabbing league table positions there are other useful measures of university performance. These can include student satisfaction and graduate employability. Both of which may feel more pertinent to a youngster aged between 18 and 21 than they quality of research undertaken by MA, Ph.D., postdoctoral students and full time academic staff.

Image of engineering objects on workplace top view.Construction concept. Engineering tools.Vintage tone retro filter effect,soft focus(selective focus)

Ten takeaways

• Everyone benefits from positive but realistic career advice.
• Ambitious, organised and focussed pupils do better in their applications.
• Results are objective, predictions are subjective. Don’t hang everything on estimates.
• Universities want facts; every grade counts.
• The workload in the last two years at school is considerable and the jump from GCSE greater than some anticipate.
• Independent learning is essential for higher grades. Students cannot be spoon fed high grades.
• The CV needs to be active and meaningful. It cannot be done last minute. It also needs to be loaded with the right elements.
• Schools can help in all aspects of Higher Education preparation.
• The social life has to fit around the work, not the other way around.
• Personal statements matter – if there is an interview this is the only chance to shine.

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Amanda Dennison

by Expat Life

Amanda Dennison is immediately recognisable within Bangkok’s international education network as a highly skilled leader who understands. Understands what it means to run a successful international school; what it means to operate in an increasingly competitive market and through times of global challenge and what it means to tear down barriers. 

As the Principal of Shrewsbury International School Bangkok City Campus, in 2020 she celebrated 10 years of headship within the Shrewsbury Bangkok family. Her 30 year career in education has covered a journey across diverse environments – with pastoral care, equality and fairness a constant motivational force throughout her profession. With Amanda’s latest appointment to the Board of Directors at the British Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (BCCT), here we focus on the story of one of Bangkok’s most experienced educationalists and delve into how this consummate leader encompasses qualities of compassion and empathy alongside a keen wit and unwavering energy to dismantle outdated legacies of patronage and bias. 


Amanda started her career in the late 1980’s. Where now, visitors to London’s docklands are met with the clean straight lines and polished marble of an eminent and prosperous financial hub, in 1987 the area was home to communities of working class families and former dock workers left stranded and forgotten by the closure of many of the ports in the preceding decade. It was into the heart of this diverse and marginalised community that Amanda first became a teacher and she recalls a challenging environment: 

“In my initial year at the school, one class saw 27 teachers come and go. Nobody wanted to stay. These children needed consistency and something needed to change”

Amanda made a commitment and stayed at St. Luke’s Primary School for 10 years, fighting to ensure a generation of children progressed to a secondary education with academic stability. She saw beyond superficial challenges, providing a level of cohesion which released raw potential. And it was here too where Amanda credits the birth of a fighting spirit which has always stayed with her. A strong resolve was born to help young people overcome the barriers they faced. 

And it’s those barriers which have always driven Amanda. Those who know her talk of her compassion, empathy and ability to see in others their potential for greatness. Her track record of success and headship should also be heard however; it speaks of an individual with a focussed determination to ensure success is never restricted, both for herself and for others. 

Since that demanding start, we see a career that includes deputy and headteacher roles and the successful creation of a ‘Beacon School’, so called for the (then) British Labour Government’s ‘Beacon School’ programme under Prime Minister Tony Blair. The programme ran from 1998 to 2004 and epitomised Prime Minister Blair’s focus on school improvement through diversity, collaboration and partnership; education was a major party manifesto of the time. As a beacon school, the success Amanda and her team achieved was held up as an example for others to follow. Schools from across London, the UK and even globally came to learn from their accomplishments. Amanda recalls coffee and cake with Tony Blair in her office; a simple story with Amanda keen not to indulge in the unnecessary trappings of celebrity or connection:

“We ate croissants, drank coffee, chatted about the school and he left. What’s important to me is not endless discussion about how or why but the actual realisation of a plan. Successful schools remove barriers, limits and restrictions to pupil achievement”

And with this sentiment now a firmly established working mantra, Amanda’s journey progresses to Thailand and the beginning of this, the latest point on the map.

In 2010 Amanda took up a role at Shrewsbury International School Bangkok as the Vice-Principal and Head of Junior School. At the time, the Shrewsbury brand was still only 7 years old in Thailand and its international status was the first in the British school’s almost 500 years of history. In its pursuit of expansion and educational excellence overseas, it’s certainly no over-dramatisation to say much rested on the success of this venture. 

With Amanda in charge of the junior school, Shrewsbury International’s reputation for inspiring and achieving excellence grew. So much so, that waiting lists for their primary facility became the norm and thus, in 2018, a second campus was opened to accommodate the need with Amanda leading the team. 

Shrewsbury City Campus is a purpose built primary school in the heart of Bangkok. It reflects the changing requirements of education and its facilities have been purpose built with the younger learner in mind without having to compete with the demands of teenage pupils. Amanda and her team spent countless meetings with architects designing a school environment they were proud of. Now in its third year of successful operations, it has grown to over 350 students and is yet another accolade on a growing list. Amanda credits the school’s success to the same core threads of equality, fairness and compassion which have followed her through her career:

“Children are known by their name here and so are their families. The same applies to the team of amazing staff; I will always opt for a strongly affiliative working relationship. That has always and will always be my preference. Managing a team of committed people who can understand and share in a vision is very important”.

The school’s remarkable growth is all the more impressive given the backdrop of increasing competition and a global pandemic. But then Amanda isn’t new to challenges and isn’t one to give up on one either. 

In 2021 Amanda was awarded a seat on the board of directors of the BCCT. It’s fair to say we can expect the same dedication to this role as any of her previous commitments – and this dedication brings with it an agenda of tolerance and a strong determination to ensure everyone has the right to meet their fullest potential:

“I am keen to raise awareness of any inequalities I see as well as support the creation of an open culture; a culture where individuals are empowered to recognise and challenge inappropriate and unacceptable behaviours in themselves and others” 

And so, after 30 years in education, the honour of accomplishing beacon school status and a lead role in the creation of an entire new school; what’s next? 

“A bakery in my hometown of Morecambe” she jokes “Amanda’s Macrons”. 

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Expat Life spoke to Simon Meredith, the Headmaster at BISP, as the school celebrates 25 years of international education on Phuket.

What makes British International School, Phuket unique?

Rarely do you see the words education and paradise in the same sentence, however at BISP, many families are attracted by the world class learning opportunities and the lifestyle afforded in a tropical island location.

With over 60 different nationalities amongst our student body, we are a truly international school. 70% of our students are international, which creates a diverse, cosmopolitan atmosphere at the school.

The students have access to internationally recognised learning and examinations, with professional coaches in football, golf, tennis, swimming, aerial arts and gymnastics, artists in residence and school trips across Asia and beyond. Every child in middle school learns a musical instrument and is entered into LAMDA exams. 

The school has day and boarding students.

We pride ourselves on offering learning without limits.

Where do your graduates go?

Our graduates pursue a diverse number of destinations, careers and interests. In the past three years alone, students have progressed to 134 different universities in 22 countries, as well as to professional sports clubs and careers around the world.

We recognise the needs of each individual, and support students and their families in making the right choice for the individual child. Two dedicated University Counsellors guide students and parents from Year 9 onwards. 

Ultimately, we want students to find their passion at BISP, and to be able to follow these passions upon graduation.

Tell us about the school’s mission.

Our mission is to Inspire Learning; Nurture Wellbeing; Ignite Passion

This mission reflects what we believe schools have to provide in a modern context. No longer are good schools responsible for simply providing strong academics. Instead, parents seek schools which can provide a balance of learning, wellbeing and extracurricular activities, and through our unique triple helix system, this is something BISP has been doing for many years.

We continue to enable students to make the most of the environment. Students play sports on real grass, enjoy our outdoor pools, and learn on our on-campus golf course. The afternoons see our population enjoying the fresh air, taking part in our 300 plus extracurricular activities, incorporating a healthy physical element into their lifestyle.

What is life like for boarding students?

The recent academic years have been unique in that some of our boarding students have not been home for two years. It is a testament to the boarding experience at BISP that during this time, these students have flourished.

Boarding students have the unique opportunity to share schooling experiences with students from around the world and establish lifelong friends. Some travel for more than 30 hours to get to BISP and so schooling is part of a great adventure.

Our house parents are from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, France, Philippines, and Korea, and seven of the nine house parents have their own children in the school, forming an international and diverse family, and providing the safety and routines in which boarding students can feel at home.

A chef oversees our menus and refectory and caters for high performance athletes, and our onsite nurses ensure medical care 24/7.

Students have the opportunity to explore Phuket on weekends and to travel Asia and the world on sporting and academic trips throughout the school year.

Many day students will join us if their parents are away for some time, or for periods of intense exam practice, as we have the flexibility of accommodating any family circumstances. We also have a weekly boarding option and part time boarding.

What would you say to any families moving to Phuket?

We recommend visiting the campus, meeting myself and the principals, and, depending on the ages and needs of your children, meeting our university counsellors and the specialist learning needs team, the head of boarding and high performance coaches.

We also offer trials, allowing students to experience the school prior to enrolment. 

It is also a good idea to speak to other families. Approximately 25% of our graduating classes have been at BISP since the start of their schooling in Little Ducks or Early Years, so you’ll find plenty of parents with the experience of the whole school journey.

Education in paradise is a reality! 

Why not come and join us!

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How can anyone who loves their children even think about sending them to boarding school?” asked the friend of a friend at a dinner party. This was a farewell party, a week before I was to take on the headship of a UK boarding school. Perhaps the comments were understandable given her lack of knowledge and experience of such places. However, looking back now, having run boarding schools for 20 years I can attest that love is not something in short supply in residential education. 

Boarding began in earnest in Victorian Britain, mainly as a means of helping the disadvantaged and the needy. 1855 saw the opening of the Manchester Warehousemen and Clerks’ Orphan Schools providing education and a home, of sorts, for children of local workers whose deaths had left their families in need. Six lost and lonely children were their first boarders and the new school took as its motto the little known Latin phrase “in loco parentis” meaning in the place of the parents. This paved the way to a law in 1870 making it a legal requirement that teachers act as would a reasonable and caring parent. The school may have changed its name to Cheadle Hulme School and now educates 1,500 boys and girls but the motto remains the same and this commitment to children runs like a seam through all good schools everywhere. 

Prior to headship I worked at a school in Nottingham that had a long and close relationship with Thai families. Among many Thais who boarded there were Prime Minsters Mom Rajawongse Seni Pramoj and Mom Rajawongse Kukrit Pramoj. In those early days a boarder may not return to Asia for years, instead remaining with their Housemasters in the holidays, living as part of their family. The men and women looking after Thailand’s future leaders carried a responsibility far greater than making sure they passed exams. Then as now, it’s all about care, guidance, support and… love!

Teachers who look after boarders do so much more than teach subjects. They build excellent relationship with parents, getting to know the strengths, weaknesses, problems and circumstances of every child. They become counsellors, mediators, disciplinarians, comforters, helpers, supporters, planners and companions for every child every day and night of every busy term. Nobody can do this and just see it as a regular job. 


In my experience, families who don’t send their children to boarding school sometime have a distorted view of why people do it and what it’s like. This isn’t helped by the naïve and inaccurate media view of boarding, so maybe it’s time to untangle a few “nots”:

What it’s not

It is not Hogwarts although the camaraderie among the children, the shared enthusiasm for sports, the sense of community in dining together and the high points of parties and visits are all real enough.

It is not a fantasy of top hats, toffs and tail coats. The lazy media stereotypes of a few posh boys in fancy clothes posing on the steps of grand old building exist today only in the picture libraries of some media outlets.

It is not a world of cowering, enfeebled youngster and bullying, entitled older students getting away with horrible behaviour while the school is at the mercy of their wealthy parents.

Children are at boarding school for one core reason (explained later) but with a variety of purposes.

Why it is needed

Families are on the move. Business, diplomatic, service and other highly mobile parents do not want to be transferring their children from school to school, country to country as their contracts, commitments or tours change. This can be traumatising for you people who will struggle to make and remake friendships and deal with different teachers, school environments and subjects. Boarding gives stability. 

Families need a place of safety. When we look as the lives of the famous and wealthy with their lovely houses, glamorous lives, celebrity events and international routines spare a though for their kids. Typically, grownups choose the lives they lead but their children have little or no say in the matter. They do not want to do their growing up in the glare of the public and the scrutiny of the media. We can all be challenging, different, experimental and temperamental when we are young and should be allowed to do our growing up in private. When a school community is familiar with these challenges and its community can keep school matters inside the school, keeping everyone safe and secure, a child can relax and grow up in a stable and supportive community. Kids can be themselves, not just the offspring of somebody rich and/or famous.

Families need help. The world is increasingly open and accepting of the fact that we can’t all do everything and that keeping a stiff upper lip or burying our feelings is good for nobody. It is not good for us and not good for our families. Admitting that our parenting skills might not be our strength and that we need help may be very difficult but sometimes being open to this can be the very best thing for parents and child alike.

Families are remote. Farmers, island workers and many others live and work in environments where there is a lot to do but other children can be few and far between. If ever you get away from it all and enjoy a few weeks of isolation or drive past the rolling fields in agricultural areas, think about how lonely this can be for a youngster who is there all the time. Many people are needed to keep remote resorts working and every farmstead is a home miles from any other. It is seldom healthy for children to grow up away from others their own age and a local school may not be an option. 

Families see it as the best type of schooling. Many boarders are from families where parents or grandparents boarded or the have close friends or family with boarding in their family. Families who have very happy memories of boarding life want their children to have the same experience. There is hard data to show the value added in terms of improved results for many who study as boarders with fewer distractions, more personal attention and closer supervision.

Families are given a special opportunity. Although boarding schools charge fees, many are eager to offer free or discounted places to children with academic, sporting, musical or other potential. These scholarships can be as much as 100% off fees and can provide some talented children with opportunities that simply do not exist near to where their families live or are affordable for their parents.  

At the core of all of these issues is one simple thing. Parents love their children and want to do the best for them. Their circumstances, location, lifestyle and earnings may be wildly different but this doesn’t mean they don’t feel the same way about their kids. A family who chooses a boarding school does not love their children any less or any more than somebody who see their child every day.    

In my office a few years ago sat the ambassador to one of the UK’s larger, more important neighbours. We were talking about his son, who I will re-name Patrick in this article and his Dad had was seeing me for some advice. Running schools means you see a lot of family unhappiness and unfortunately, you tend to gain some expertise in teenage trauma, tantrums and torpor. Patrick’s family situation was not so unusual but this is no comfort to anyone in the heat of the arguments, harsh words, door slamming and the other high octane drama that some parents and kids go through. Patrick was pushing all the boundaries – big enough and smart enough to challenge his Dad and hurt his Mum but not so wise as to know what he was really doing or why. His recent school reports were awful, his grades had fallen off a cliff and he was just as disengaged at home. His parents were busy and knew they were not giving him the time he needed although Patrick seemed to want to spend as little time as possible with them.

Between us we decided to split the parenting. In term time we took over and made sure Patrick was up every day and that the work got done. We fed him, looked after him, gave him plenty of ways to get fit as well as express himself, make friendships and keep in touch with family and old friends. When Patrick went home it was for proper family holidays. His Dad was no longer the taskmaster, instead he took him fishing and to football matches. His parents had plenty to deal with as we all do as parents but at least they could focus on the positives and work with the school to navigate the difficulties. I only met Patrick’s Dad one more time – four years later when he sat in the audience watching his son graduate and address the whole school in his role as Head Boy. Patrick has become one of my most reliable, role model students, one who could speak form the heart when younger boys were causing difficulty and one who I know had a loving and firm relationships with his parents. 

Patrick’s is just one of the many happy ending stories I could tell about the transformational aspect of a boarding education. Loving a child and allowing them to board are not opposites, for many they are two parts of a greater whole, developing the young person and extending the family.   

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The Asian Institute of Hospitality Management in academic association with Les Roches

The Asian Institute of Hospitality Management (AIHM), in academic association with Les Roches, brings Swiss-style hospitality education to Asia. A partnership between Les Roches and Minor Hotels, AIHM draws on the renown, expertise and network of two powerhouse names to provide a world-class education. 

Les Roches

Les Roches is Switzerland’s preeminent hospitality school, and although tucked away in the mountains of Crans-Montana, is a truly international institute. Switzerland itself is known as the destination of choice for future hospitality leaders, with four of the world’s top seven hospitality schools located there according to the QS World University Rankings. Les Roches is ranked one of the top three schools worldwide by specialisation.

For its foray into Asia, Les Roches has partnered with Minor Hotels, not only one of Asia’s most successful hospitality groups, but also one of the world’s fastest growing. To date, Minor employs over 35,000 hoteliers in 530 hotels, resorts and serviced suites across six continents. 

Minor Hotels

Minor Hotels is led by one of the region’s most well-known entrepreneurs, William Heinecke. An American by birth but Thai by choice, Heinecke started his first business in Thailand at age 17. In 1978, he opened his first hotel, a small resort in Pattaya. In 2001, luxury brand Anantara was launched, and the 20 years since have seen overseas expansion (Asia, Indian Ocean, Africa, Middle East, Europe, the Americas, Australasia), global acquisitions (Elewana, Tivoli, Oaks, NH Hotel Group) and hundreds of hospitality awards and recognition from the world’s major industry players. The group currently operates 76,000 rooms in 55 countries and is widely accepted as one of the companies that sets the benchmark in the hospitality trade internationally.

Studying at AIHM

AIHM offers a three-and-a-half-year Bachelor of Business Administration in Global Hospitality Management. The curriculum mirrors the Swiss one, and is designed in consultation with Les Roches, but with a specifically international outlook. 

AIHM has two campuses – Bangkok and Pattaya – with both locations purposefully chosen to immerse students in the world’s leading tourist destinations. AIHM facilities include newly built lecture theatres, libraries, labs and even a wine cellar. 

Swiss-style learning involves small classes and hands-on experience. Classes are led in English by Les Roches-certified experts in their fields. Apart from the traditional hospitality disciplines, students will also explore leadership, entrepreneurship, sustainability and innovation. Modules include finance, accounting, data analytics, digital marketing and communications. 

Two of seven semesters are dedicated to internships, and this is where Minor’s strengths particularly come into play: for the first internship, students are based at one of Minor’s 28 hotels across Thailand. For the second internship, students venture internationally, whether at a Minor hotel or other branded property, airline, cruise liner, travel agency or tour operator. 

AIHM students who excel will also be offered the opportunity to enroll at the Crans-Montana, Switzerland or Marbella, Spain campuses as exchange students. Transfers there for the final two semesters will ensure graduating with a Les Roches degree. 

Why study in Thailand?

Thailand is one of the world’s leading tourism destinations, with 40 million arrivals in 2019. Many hotel brands have flagship properties here, with Thailand serving as a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Based close to home, students still benefit from an international education and mindset, interacting with fellow students and lecturers from around the world. AIHM lecturers are certified by Les Roches, have decades of industry experience, and ensure graduates enter the workforce with a supportive and expansive network of contacts. 

Thailand also offers affordability, with academic fees and particularly living costs half the price of Switzerland. Students transferring to Les Roches in their final semesters enjoy reduced fees exclusive to AIHM. 

Applying to AIHM

AIHM will have two intakes per year, in 2021 we will welcome students in April and September for the Bachelor of Business Administration in Global Hospitality Management. Prospective students should apply now. Requirements include a high school diploma and IELTS average of 5.5. AIHM also hosts regular open days at the Bangkok campus. 

For more information or to speak with an academic counsellor, visit or email [email protected]

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