By: Jodi Szimanski (she/her)

On Friday, June 30, the University of Waterloo and the Suranaree University of Technology (SUT) solidified their first bilateral work-integrated learning agreement. The agreement allows the universities to offer exceptional international co-op/WIL experiences to students at both institutions.

As the first agreement of its kind, Waterloo is building pathways for students to access international work co-op experiences with both SUT and Thai industry. The inaugural group of students in the program will complete their work terms with Western Digital Corporation in Thailand (WDC), one of the largest global companies that manufactures hard drives and flash drives. In return, students from SUT will complete research internships at Waterloo funded by grants such as ASEAN SEED.

Dr. James Rush, vice-president, academic and provost shared a Thai proverb with those in attendance for the signing ceremony: “Nom ke-un Hi reep tak.” Translated, it means: when the water rises, hurry to get some. It was a fitting metaphor for the agreement, which focuses on innovative partnerships to expand work-integrated learning opportunities for students.

Both universities are known for their innovation. This kind of commitment to innovation and impact is reflected in programs like the one we are meeting about today; programs that launch new beginnings, that propel us forward, that drive change in the world.

Dr. James Rush, vice-president, academic and provost

SUT was the first university in Thailand to offer work-integrated learning (WIL). Professor Wichit Srisa-an, the founder of several Thai universities, visited the University of Waterloo nearly 30 years ago to learn more about our co-operative education program. Today, most Thai postsecondary students can experience a form of WIL thanks to Professor Wichit, known as the “Father of Co-op" in Thailand.

Several presidents and deans from various Thai universities, including Siam University, Sripatum University and Walailak University, were visiting Waterloo for the 2023 World Association for Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education (WACE) World Conference, which ended on June 30.

They joined the Thai delegation for the signing ceremony in Waterloo’s Tatham Centre and demonstrated their support for this groundbreaking agreement.

University of Waterloo and Suranaree University of Technology
From left to right: Dr. Atit Koonsrisuk, Dr. Anan Tongraar, Dr. James Rush, Dr. Norah McRae

The agreement was signed by Dr. James Rush, Dr. Norah McRae, associate provost of Co-operative and Experiential Education, Dr. Anan Tongraar, rector of Suranaree University of Technology, and Dr. Atit Koonsrisuk, director Centre for Cooperative Education and Career Development at Suranaree University of Technology.

Agreements like this will help co-op students to become global thinkers and consider the world beyond the classroom, their country and their continent. By creating these experiences in Thailand and in Canada, we can offer our students the opportunity to truly become global citizens.


University of Waterloo and Suranaree University of Technology representatives signing the Bilateral agreement