Tuition Returned to 55 of 56 Dismissed Students Refunded Their Tuition

The director of the Technical School for Medical Care in Phnom Penh said Wednesday that all but one of 56 students who were dismissed in February after being ad­mit­ted halfway through the school year have been refunded their tu­ition.

Huy Sovat also defended the school’s decision to admit the students in the first place, stating that all of the dismissed students had tak­en the entrance exam and that the process of their selection had been transparent.

He admitted, however, that many had failed the entrance exam or gotten low scores.

Admitting low-scoring students brought in extra revenue to the school and was a practice shared by other Cambodian institutions of higher learning, Huy Sovat said.

“It’s a school practice to generate income for teachers,” he said, referring to the entrance fees the students were charged.

Two students contacted Wed­nes­day confirmed that they had gotten their money back and also said that they had sat for the en­trance exam but only scored high enough to earn a “reserve” position at the school.

“The school forced the students to take back [the money],” Pro­eung Minea, 22, said.

“I don’t want to take [the money] back. I want to learn,” she said.

School and Health Ministry officials claimed Tuesday that the 56 students, who had been admitted outside the original recruitment for the year, were ejected on Feb 3 af­ter officials from the Japan Inter­national Cooperation Agency privately complained about overcrowding in the school’s new $6.2 million building, paid for by JICA.

A Health Ministry official also im­plied that Japanese officials sought to appear disinterested but were in fact involved in the school’s management.

Responding to the claims, JICA officials released a letter Tuesday evening, that was sent to the school in January. It argued that the students’ admission was irregular and that they had either failed the entrance exam or not taken it at all.

The letter also said that prior to the arrival of the 56, the school had already been overcrowded and that their presence overburdened the school’s facilities.




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