Higher Education Governance and Financing Reforms

On 9 December 2015, the University of Cambodia was invited by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) to attend “the Consultative Workshop on Higher Education Governance and Financing Reforms” at Inter-Continental Hotel.

The workshop was opened with remarks by H.E. Lav Chheav Eav, Secretary of State for MoEYS. Participants from 14 Higher Education Institutions, consultants to MoEYS as well as senior management of MoEYS and ACC participated in the workshop.

This workshop aimed to share recommendations from Prof. Martin Hayden, Prof. Susan Bennett, and Prof. Gai Sheridan after their meetings with both public and private HEIs both to assess the implementation of new standards. The workshop presented ways in which MoEYS and all HEIs can move forward to achieve the Higher Education Vision 2030.

The Higher Education Vision 2030 and Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 identify that governance is one core area for reform. However, the inspectors have outlined other key areas requiring attention for re-form as well, they are as follows:

1-Governance:

Members of the Governing Boards at public HEIs are appointed by government officials, and some members are government official themselves. For private HEIs, members are limited and narrowly focused. There is no proper procedure to select Governing Boards, and this should be rectified.

2-University Administrator:

There is a universal lack of Terms of Reference (ToR), which is a core component of decentralizing authority.

3-Personnel management:

  • Lack of clear career paths
  • Short-term contracts for faculty
  • Less concentration on teaching with a focus on R&D and community/student services - Lack of a systematic definition of “Full-time faculty”
  • Heavy reliance on part-time faculty (some office staff teach as well)
  • Outdated, centralized recruitment mechanism (public HEIs)
  • Internal quality assurance remains inadequate

4-Academic affairs:

  • Lack of a permanent council for curriculum development and revision, at all levels
  • Internal quality assurance units are not fully functional
  • Curriculum development and revision is made on an ad hoc basis
  • Some programs and courses lack textbooks or use outdated versions
  • Freedom to select scholarship students and suspend/reduce scholarships is quite restricted - Academic freedom is quite good, although some degree of self-censorship remains
  • Quite limited training and institutional capacity and capability development opportunities

5-Financial management

  • Limited financial support from the government and HEIs generally run on tuition fees alone
  • Gradual reduction of government support transferring the burden over to the HEIs throughout the years (for public)
  • Lack of long-term rolling plan to achieve the strategic plan
  • More centralized revenue management (for public HEIs)
  • Financial management is quite centralized even at the institutional level

Recommendations

Prof. Martin briefed the workshop on their recommendations that he and his team will submit to the Minister of Education, they are as follows:

A. Governance

  1. Public higher education institutions should be given more autonomy.
  2. Forms of institutional accountability that make public higher education institutions more responsible for quality should be adopted.
  3. Public HEIs should have better financial management systems, based on an integrated management software system and a business-oriented chart of account.
  4. The higher education system should have a national coordinating body.
  5. Governing Boards shall consist of outside government officials, management representatives, legal professionals, financial officers, representatives of faculty, staff, alumni and other relevant experts. Governing Board should consist of between 15-21 members.
  6. Long-term ruling plans shall be developed in order to achieve the University’s Vision.

B. Academic affairs

  1. Permanent Academic Councils shall be set up.
  2. Foundation year program needs improvement as there are many student complaints, and the program is not catered to the skills students will require for their field of study.
  3. Full-time faculty should be paid a base salary. In the case that they do research, they shall receive their salary and a bonus, but no additional funds for research should be given.

C. Finance

  1. The higher education system should be better funded by the State. Cambodia as country spends a very small portion of their resources on education.
  2. Funds provided by the State to public HEIs should be in the form of block grants allocated on the basis of national priorities for skills development with regard to study program delivery costs.
  3. Public HEIs should be allowed to vary their tuition fee levels, with fee waivers made available to encourage enrollment among groups of disadvantaged students.
  4. Research should be better funded by the State, with research funds provided on a competitive basis.
  5. Government policies on private HEIs should be developed, addressing their future, their quality, their risk status, and their public disclosure requirement.

After sharing their findings to the Minister of Education, the workshop split up into groups for discus-sion and review of the draft, and summarized comments to improve the draft. In summary, the group recom-mended that:

  • Policy on private Higher Education should be developed separately; in fact most legal documents apply more to the public HEIs alone.
  • here should be a separate tax policy for private HEIs.
  • The government shall prioritize education by allocating more funds to this sector.
  • Block grants should be included in the long-term vision/plan of MoEYS.
  • for both private and public HEIs.
  • This will help our country keep track on global knowledge development.

 

 

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