Student activists have played notable roles in national social and political movements. Deploying a variety of analytic approaches, extensive research has been conducted regarding student movements in terms of their causes, their operational characteristics, and their relationships with broader intra- and inter-societal social and political forces. Yet the literature concerning the impact of student movements is unclear regarding the organisational and institutional environment determinants of their emergence and durability. Little attention has been directed at considering student activism through the prisms of social movement theory, institutional theory and organisational study. The current study seeks to address this situation through a consideration of student movements in Thailand. It builds upon the recent work of Kanokrat (2016) in her application of social movement theory to student activism in Thailand to consider the implications of what Clemens and Cook (1999) refer to as the “social cage” of institutional interests. This synthesised analytic approach is applied in an assessment of the contemporary Dao Din student movement of Northeast Thailand, arguably Thailand’s highest profile student movement since the 2014 military coup.