Angry University Students Ask for Options

Students at American Univer­sity of Hawaii’s Phnom Penh branch are demanding that local owners find another international university to take over programs, after a court in Hawaii ruled that the school cannot offer de­grees and is not recognized in the US.

About a dozen representatives of the school’s 350 students gathered at AUH offices on Monday, calling for a new university that will accept their AUH classes and is both locally licensed and recognized in the US. “If the university can’t fix the prob­lem or find an affiliate, we have to ask them to compensate [us],” Master’s of Business Administration student Kong Sovann, 24, said Tuesday.

If their demands are not met, he said, students will also discuss bringing a suit in Cambodian court against AUH.

A Hawaiian court in April banned the university and its international affiliates from offering degrees, because it is not accredited and does not comply with a Hawaiian law that requires it to operate a campus in the US state with 25 or more students.

Ray Christl, AUH dean of student affairs in Phnom Penh, said Tuesday all parties have been trying to find a solution.

The Singapore International Teaching Consultancy in Phnom Penh contracted AUH to provide degree courses about two years ago, Christl said. He said that SITC is now seeking a new affiliate to replace AUH.

The Education Ministry is allowing the school time to find a new affiliate, Christl said. Edu­cation Secretary of State Pok Than could not be reached Tuesday, but has said the Ministry would investigate the AUH case.

SITC offered to bring three student to Singapore at the end of this week to find a new affiliate, Christl said. But students are refusing to go, asking SITC to research the universities available and provide them with options first, student Kong Sovann said.

“Everyone is being reasonable as far as I can see—the Ministry [of Education], the institution [owners] and the students,” Christl said.

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