King Rama V or King Chulalongkorn visited Europe in 1897 as a result of Paknam Incident of 1893, part of the greater Franco-Siamese war, which manifest the threat of encroachment from the colonising powers in the region [Britain in Malaya and Burma, and France in Indochina]. This threat and subsequent provided the main impetus for King Chulalongkorn's strategy to adopt many Western practices. The King sent elites’ heirs to Europe for their education. The creation of a western-style navy fits into this strategy and would probably account for the presence of the two marine engineering students in Glasgow in 1910.

Another practice that was adopted was the introduction of western surnames. Many Thai surnames were granted by King Chulalongkorn in the early twentieth century, although nicknames continue to take precedence and were the established pattern of naming.

It was not until the 1950s that the University received its next Thai students. From 1952 to 1965, seventeen Thai-born students enrolled at the University; fourteen students of Science and Engineering, two of Arts and only one of Medicine. This Cold War period saw Thailand became an ally to the USA, and Britain, in the SEATO Treaty, formed to oppose Communism. This alliance with the USA in turn led to increased modernisation and westernisation of Thailand, becoming, as it is now, a free market economy.