Students at Cambodian universities continue to face limited opportunities to study abroad—a prospect students reacted to with frustration Thursday, during an conference on Cambodia’s higher-education system.
At the Royal University of Phnom Penh undergraduate students have limited opportunities and often find themselves as first-year students when they arrive at overseas universities, said Hang Chan Thon, university educational advising center director.
Of the 4,000 students at the university, only about 10 traveled outside of Cambodia for selective study programs in Japan, Malaysia or Singapore.
Chan Nareth, rector of the Royal University of Agriculture, said, “[Transferring] from local universities to foreign universities, we cannot do that because our university cannot be judged on international standards.”
Student Teng Bopha, 25, who attended the first day of the two-day conference at the University of Cambodia, dreams of studying in the US. But as a student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Faculty of Pedagogy, she said she finds barriers everywhere she looks.
“The chance is not good for students abroad,” she said Thursday.
Cambodia has at least another year of developing criteria for accreditation before it can gauge the level of education in its schools, said Pen Dareth, education adviser to the Council of Ministers.
The accreditation committee, under the Council of Ministers, has at least a few more years before it can even evaluate the quality of a Cambodian education internationally, Pen Dareth said.
Critics have also speculated that the committee will have difficulty avoiding corruption when awarding accreditation to schools.
“In Cambodia, if you have money, it’s very easy to run any university,” said Vuth Chanserei Phuon, 21, a student at Pannasastra University. He said the whole system makes him feel “short-changed” and “frustrated.”
Hang Chan Thon said students are limited only by their ability to perform—mainly on English tests.