As the first open university in Southeast Asia, STOU has garnered attention since its founding. Through the years, the university’s innovative approach to making education accessible and managing a flexible higher education institution impressed both the general public and organizations.
Starting in 1982, about five years after the university’s founding, UNESCO named STOU the lead institution in the Consortium on Innovation in Higher Education for Asia and the Pacific. Being selected to lead this regional collaborative project for the development of higher education in the region was an early indicator of international confidence in STOU’s model for broadly spreading access to education.
In 1993, the university’s management system came into focus when it was presented with the Asian Management Award in the category of development management. For this award, the Asian Institute of Management considers non-profit organizations or companies from six different countries that have demonstrated effective management principles. Two years later, STOU was specifically recognized for its achievements in distance education management when it received the Award of Excellence from the International Council for Distance Education and the Commonwealth of Learning.
In subsequent years, STOU has continued to develop its system of distance education management in the country. In addition to cooperation with UNESCO, STOU has been an active member of several international and regional groupings of education institutions, and the university developed important connections with international partners in Asia and worldwide. Soon, STOU will host the 57th World Assembly of the International Council on Education for Teaching.
Besides this international involvement, STOU has also received national awards and recognitions for accomplishments. One of the first of these came in 1984 when STOU received a public relations award (Silver Conch Award, Public Relations Society of Thailand) for using mass media and public relations technology to develop a distance learning system geared to meet the needs of Thai society and provide people in every region of the country with equal opportunities for higher education. In 1992 and again in 2002, STOU recipient of the Mekhala Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding achievement in Thai television. In 1992, STOU received awards for outstanding achievement in Thai television (Mekhala Award) for its production of educational television programs. Around the same time that the second of these awards was presented, STOU received the Award of Excellence in Media Production for Youth from the government’s Office of Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment of Vulnerable Groups for producing computer assisted instruction program on basic English language usage. This same program also garnered the university a Gold Medal Award for Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) from the Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education of the Ministry of Education. Even the quality of the university’s design and printing capabilities has been honored, with Suriyasasithorn Awards in 2004 and 2010 for production of commemorative desk calendars.