CHEA Board of Directors Meeting

By: Dr. Y Ratana

On 29 May 2015, Dr. Y Ratana, representative of the University of Cambodia, attended the 6th meeting of the Board of Directors of CHEA, led by Dr. Heng Vanda, President of the BoD of CHEA. The objectives of the meeting were 1) to discuss issues related to the Ministry of Health; 2) to discuss research under CHEA; and 3) to discuss other matters.

Dr. Heng Vanda introduced the meeting to Mr. Eng Po, Officer of Public Affairs at the US Embassy to Phnom Penh. The purpose of inviting Mr. Eng Po to the BoD meeting was to seek mutual understanding and cooperation between CHEA and the US Embassy.

Mr. Po stated that the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) has just set up a BoD, and requested that the US Embassy organize a workshop on higher education in Phnom Penh, and arrange a study visit to the USA for the BoD to learn more about the management and development of higher education institutions. The US Embassy felt that it would be narrow to organize this workshop for RUPP alone, and decided it would be good if other higher education institutions also participated. Thus, he sought for input from CHEA on what kinds of issues should be focused on for higher education. In response, CHEA proposed several topics related to higher education for the US Embassy to consider for the workshop such as research, university ranking, curriculum design and development, accreditation, control and autonomy, higher education in the USA: challenges, successes, and future direction, research grants, and scholarships.

After, Dr. Heng Vanda asked Mr. Sabo Ousano, President of International University of Phnom Penh to inform the meeting about the problems that his university has been facing along with other universities that train health science related majors. In response Mr. Sabo Ousano said there have been a lot of problems since the Ministry of Health took over responsibility for Health Science Higher Education Institutions. According to him, the main issue is that students have already taken university exit exams, but the university is not allowed to issue them degrees. He added that the university cannot issue the certificate until there is national exit exam. However the exit exam organized by the university would not be much different than a national exam, as there are university officials from the Ministry of Health and MoEYS on the exam committee already. He added that previously, when the university fell under MoEYS, there were no problems with the issuance of certificates.

Lastly, Mr. Ousano requested that CHEA help intervene on this issue. He claimed that the university should have autonomy in issuing degrees to students just as MoEYS gave autonomy to HEIs in 2014. In response, the meeting decided that CHEA would write a letter to the Minister of Health and Samdech Prime Minister requesting intervention. CHEA wanted to make clear that everything must be done under the law, and stated that all HEIs must respect the law.

CHEA desires to strengthen HEI’s research capacity under CHEA. And thus, CHEA hopes to create a research center that will be beneficial to all HEIs under CHEA. Among other duties, the research center will train HEIs to conduct proper research and disseminate results. The meeting agreed to set up a research center, and appointed Dr. Net Barom, Vice President of IU in charge of their Graduate School as Research Center (RC) Director, Dr. Y Ratana, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Cambodia as RC Deputy Director, and Mr. Kieve Vichenon as RC Deputy Director.

The meeting then discussed the important issue of joint collaboration and MoUs between Cambodian HEIs. Together it was decided that HEIs should partner with relevant institutions independent of CHEA, and are encouraged to seek as much collaboration as possible. Individual HEIs who wish to sign MoUs can contact Dr. Ek Monosen, President of HRU and Dr. Heng Vanda, President of Vanda Institute. (So far there are six universities participating: HRU, Vanda Institute, PPIU, UC, Asia-Europe University, and Beltei Institute)
Last but not least the meeting discussed the issue of certification of Bac II: now that the Department of Higher Education (DHE) transferred responsibility to the Department of General Education, HEIs need to check and verify with the General Department on high school certification to avoid the problem of false certificates. In this case, the meeting decided that they should take further measures to protect students and the institution. CHEA will 1) write a letter to the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport to request that MoEYS provide a database to access the “Pass and Fail Grades of High School Students,” so that HEIs can easily verify and avoid any mistakes; and 2) HEIs should have a contract with students regarding their high school certification, stating that students bear legal responsibility for providing false information, and will face consequences.

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