11 July 2024

The Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok Uthenthawai (RUTU) campus has received an order to cease the admission of new first-year students, marking the initial phase of its closure. This measure is aimed at returning the land to Chulalongkorn University.

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations Minister Supamas Isarabhakdi, said that the RUTU has to return the land, as instructed by the Supreme Administrative Court in 2022, to relocate to a new location to reduce student violence.

She said that the relocation cannot be enforced immediately, because there are still many students at the university, adding that officials of the ministry have held talks with many alumni and most of them agreed to comply with the court’s ruling.

Previously known as Uthenthawai College, the campus is located on a 3.2 hectare plot of Chulalongkorn University’s 184.48 hectares of land in Pathumwan district of Bangkok, under a 68-year lease from 1935 to 2003. It was eventually upgraded to a university and renamed RUTU.  Negotiations had been ongoing for many years for the campus to be relocated, but without success, even though a 5.76 hectare plot of land in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan has been acquired by the Education Ministry and the Treasury Department as a new campus.

The land dispute was raised with a government-sanctioned committee, which ruled that Uthenthawai must return the land to Chulalongkorn University. Uthenthawai, however, twice submitted petitions to the Palace, which ruled in favour of the committee’s decision. In 2022, the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that the land must be returned to Chulalongkorn University.

The rivalry between students of Uthenthawai and the Pathumwan Institute of Technology, both located in the Pathumwan district, dates back several decades and occasionally resulted in street fights and armed assaults, resulting in deaths and injuries. The latest violence occurred last Friday night, in front of the Pathumwan college, when a student was fatally stabbed, allegedly by former students, believed from Uthenthawai.

Bangkok police raided seven locations in the capital today to search for nine suspects allegedly involved in last Friday’s killing.

In a raid on a rented house in Soi Phai Ngern in Bang Khor Laem district, police found some ammunition and shirts bearing the name of Uthenthawai.