Would-be journalists and public-relations workers are lining up to apply for the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s new media and communications course.
“I think we will have nearly 2,000 candidates” for the course, said Pit Chamnan, rector of the university. But the single course offered by the Department of Media and Communications has only 30 places.
“When this program started, I knew I had to apply as soon as I finished my [final] exams,” said Bun Samnang, 20, a student at the Foreign Language Institute.
The department was founded last year, supported by funds from Germany’s Konrad Adenauer Foundation and professors from Mittweida University in Germany.
Pit Chamnan lamented the fact that only one class can be offered with the current resources. He said there are no Cambodian professors capable of teaching the subject, so the course is dependent on the instructors sent by the German university.
“We lack human resources for media and communications,” he said. “But we will take the best students in this course and send them abroad to study more. When they come back, we will have Cambodian professors.”
The course aims to raise the media professions in Cambodia to new levels, the rector said. “In the next generation, journalists will be real professionals,” he said.
Sek Barisoth, director of the Cambodia Communication Institute, which runs a journalist training course, said the course was important as an official recognition of the need for a professional media sector.
“It’s excellent that the Royal University has recognized the need for this course,” he said.
Some warned, however, that the course might be preparing students for nonexistent jobs. “This course is very good for both university students and journalists,” said Tat Lyhok, deputy director of Agence Khmer Presse.
But their skills won’t matter without jobs, he said. “Sure, [the course] is very popular, but what will they do when they finish and they can’t find comfortable jobs?”