Almost two years after the government announced the relocation of the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) from central Phnom Penh to the city outskirts, Prime Minister Hun Sen finally announced on Friday that $12 million would be spent on the new building, though he admitted that not all of the funding had been secured.
“We will build a large university of fine arts soon because the old university is very small and narrow,” Mr. Hun Sen said at an event for the 19th National Cultural Day in Phnom Penh.
The new building site will cover 3 hectares and be in Chroy Changva district’s Chroy Changva commune—substantially less central than its current site next to the National Museum, a main tourist attraction in Daun Penh district, he said.
The government restructured RUFA in 2005 and moved some departments to Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmei commune, where enrollment in those programs plummeted.
Mr. Hun Sen said on Sunday he hoped to convince foreign donors to help fund the structure.
“I will play an important role in asking for the budget from foreigners for construction,” he said.
The premier said he had told Phoeung Sakona, the minister for culture and fine arts, to remember to include housing for students who come to study from the provinces.
Ms. Sakona said on Sunday that construction will begin before Khmer New Year in mid-April and would be finished within three years.
“We will construct this university bigger than before to get more students than before, and we will build many houses in the university for students,” she said.
A fourth hectare has been set aside to build a cultural center for live music and theater performances next door to the university, she added. It will be built after the new RUFA building is completed.
The government has maintained that RUFA’s current plot will be used to extend the National Museum and not sold to a private company.