The lack of skilled workers remains a drag on industrial development. Many students seek technical training overseas, and some receive postgraduate education in specialized technical subjects at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok (founded in 1959), which offers advanced degrees in agricultural engineering, human settlements, and computer applications. The institute also operates receiving equipment for LANDSAT transmissions that provide Southeast Asian countries with the aerial surveys vital to agricultural development, forest inventories, and city planning.
Scientific organizations include the Medical Association of Thailand (founded in 1921); the Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (1963), the principle government research agency; and the Science Society of Thailand (1948), all headquartered in Bangkok. National science policy is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Energy. Research and development expenditures in 1987–97 totaled0.13% of GNP; 103 scientists and engineers and 39 technicians per 1 million population were engaged in research and development.
In addition to the Asian Institution of Technology, 15 other universities offer courses in basic and applied sciences. In 1987– 97, science and engineering students accounted for 18% of college and university enrollments. In 1998, high-tech exports were valued at $12.6 billion and accounted for 31% of manufactured exports.