Although the country has taken pride in being the only Southeast Asia country that has not been colonized by the West, Western models and values have had enormous influences on the formation of the Thai state and the making of Thai universities (Watson, 1980). While a critical analysis of the colonial legacy on the trajectory of Thailand’s development has been well documented in the studies of the Thai state (Anderson, 1978; Jackson, 2007), it deserves further attention in the field of education studies. The existing literature on the history of Thailand’s education system has viewed this dual process through a normative lens and portrayed it as a successful strategy of Thai elites to weather external imposition, in this case colonization (Fry, 2002a; Jungck and Kajornsin, 2003; Watson, 1980, 1989; Wyatt, 1969). This chapter attempts to move beyond such normative explanation of selective borrowing as a successful historical maneuver. Rather, it will trace the trajectory of Thai higher education through the analytic lens of policy borrowing and lending. It argues that the selective borrowing of external forces has been used as a political, economic, and cultural strategy for the survival of the Thai state and the development of Thai higher education. The threat of colonization, reliance on American economic assistance, and globalization forces showcase this. The chapter commences by laying down the basic tenets of the logic of the Thai state. Subsequently, it traces the historical development of the Thai higher education system during the Europeanization and Americanization period. By re-examining the historical development of the Thai higher education system, this chapter serves as a theoretical background to understand Thailand’s contemporary policies such as the autonomous university policy, internationalization of higher education, the rise of a quality assurance regime, the importance of international rankings, and Thailand’s attempt to create national research universities.