Forging ahead towards mutual excellence under a common educational philosophy, strengthening of ties between Tzu Chi University and Mahidol University
05 Feb 2018
Tzu Chi University and Mahidol University from Thailand inked the status of partner universities in 2005 and since then, relationships have grown stronger, with nursing students undergoing internship periodically at each other universities. With the deepening of mutual understandings, both universities agreed and established the dual PhD degree in 2015.
Siriraj Hospital and its medical school were established in 1888, as Thailand’s first institution of higher learning and is the predecessor of Mahidol University. Mahidol University is constantly ranking within the top three universities of Thailand and the university namesake was granted in 1969 by the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej after his Father, Prince Mahidol of Songkla, widely known as the “Father of Modern Medicine and Public Health in Thailand”.
As Tzu Chi University embarks into its third decade of establishment and against the backdrop of the government’s New South Bound policy, Mahidol University is a strategic anchor in the deepening of international academic and research collaboration, one of the top priorities in the future development of the university.
Hence, Prof. Ingrid Liu, Vice-President, Prof. Hwan-Wun Liu, Dean of International Affairs and faculties of Tzu Chi University visited Mahidol University on 22 Jan 2018 to discuss the deepening of the dual PhD degree and was warmly welcomed by Assoc. Prof. Thawornchai Limjindaporn, Deputy Dean of Postgraduate Education and Prof. Thawatchai Akaraviputh, Deputy Dean for International Relations, Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital.
Consensus reached in deepening academic and research collaborations
Following Tzu Chi University’s visit in January, Mahidol University, led by Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital and over forty academic faculties, paid a returned visit on 5 Feb 2018. The Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital of Mahidol University consists of the Siriraj Medical School and Siriraj Hospital, and is recognized as one of the largest healthcare institute in Southeast Asia.
During the welcoming reception, Prof. Dr. Pen-Jung Wang, President, Tzu Chi University congrats Mahidol University on its outstanding academic standing worldwide and shares that Tzu Chi University believes in the mounding of students’ humanitarian character concurrently with imparting knowledge. Looking forward, President Wang hopes for greater academic and cultural exchange between the two universities and with this visit, a greater insight of Tzu Chi’s educational philosophy.
In return, Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University shares that Thais hold the Tzu Chi Foundation and its charity works in high regards, and Thai universities acknowledge the reputation of Tzu Chi University. As a predominately Buddhist country, it is not difficult for Thais to understand the teaching of Tzu Chi Founder, Venerable Master Cheng Yen. Hence, it is an appropriate occasion to visit and understand more about the Tzu Chi’s philosophy.
After the welcoming reception, medical delegates of Mahidol University proceed to visit the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, interacting and sharing medical experiences with each other. The academic delegates, led by Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University attended the collaboration meeting hosted by Prof. Ingrid Liu, Vice-President of Tzu Chi University.
During the collaboration meeting, both universities agree to establish an undergraduate and postgraduate student exchange program, with reciprocal wavier of tuition and credit fees as well as the free provision of accommodation for incoming students. Furthermore, both universities agree to set up a website, listing the principal investigators of each university as well as their research areas, publications and accomplishments, in order to better facilitate joint research collaboration. Most importantly, both universities agree to move forward in establishing a Joint Ph.D. Degree Program.
Greatly impressed by Tzu Chi humanity approach to teaching
After the collaboration meeting, all delegates of Mahidol University continue with a tour of Tzu Chi University and the Tzu Chi Foundation. The tour was hosted by Tzu Chi University’s students of Thai nationality and conducted in English and Thai, whose confident presentation left a lasting impression.
Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University was highly impressed by Tzu Chi University’s excellence in teaching, especially the tea ceremony, flower arrangement and calligraphy lessons, believing that these classes soften the medical students’ mental and physical approaches toward future patients.
Asst. Prof. Prapat Wanitpongpan, Assistant Dean for International Relations was particularly interested in the Silent Mentor Program and was very impressed upon hearing that Tzu Chi volunteers and the Taiwanese public voluntary donated their bodies after death for medical teaching and research within the Medical Simulation Center.
Forging ahead towards mutual excellence under a common philosophy
The decision to establish the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University in 1888 was due to a major cholera outbreak in 1881 and the passing of the Thai King’s beloved son Prince Siriraj Kakutabhundu at the age of 18 months in 1887, which in turn became the faculty’s namesake. It is with this conviction that the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital strives to advance medical education, patient care and research by pursuing Prince Mahidol of Songkla’s philosophy: “True success is not in learning but in its applications to the benefit of mankind”.
Venerable Master Yin Shun upon accepting Venerable Master Cheng Yen as his disciple, gave the instruction to “always work for Buddhism and all sentient beings”. With this instruction and personally encountering the poor and sick in Taiwan, Venerable Master Cheng Yen founded the Tzu Chi Foundation in 1966 to assist the poor, built the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital in 1986 to serve the sick and established the Tzu Chi Medical College (predecessor of Tzu Chi University) in 1994 to train compassionate medical doctors.
Although spanned by a century across the periods of establishment, both universities continue to uphold the common educational philosophy of providing humanitarian medical care to the poor and needy. As both Tzu Chi University and Mahidol University forge ahead toward mutual excellence, this common philosophy will continue to be the cornerstone of future academic and research collaborations.