Identifying Priorities for Long-term Cambodian Higher Education Planning

On 12 November 2015, University of Cambodia representative, Ms. Por Malis, Vice President of Operations, attended a workshop organized by the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport (MoEYS) entitled, “Identifying Priorities for Long-term Cambodian Higher Education Planning” at Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh. Higher Education Institution representatives and consultants from Malaysia, Australia, and India, in addition to some senior management of Mo-EYS participated in the workshop.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To examine higher education development in Cambodia over the past 10 years;
  • To identify potential areas for higher education development in Cambodia over the next 10 years;
  • To identify a set of priorities for long-term planning of higher education in Cambodia until 2025; and
  • To ascertain the feasibility of implementing a set of priorities for long-term planning for higher education.

The workshop was opened with remarks by H.E. Mak Ngoy, Director General of the Department of Higher Education, MoEYS. He mentioned during his speech the key items that MoEYS will focus on during the next 15 years. In response to the government’s plan to increase GDP growth from now until 2030, Mo-EYS shall develop good human resources to be able to move forward towards these goals.

In reference to the Higher Education Vision 2030, the Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018, and the Higher Education Reform Agenda 2014-2023, MoEYS shall develop a good foundation for HEIs to reach goals in 2030. If we compare Cambodia with Malaysia, we see that Malaysia will become a high-income country in 2020, so what should Cambodia do to reach the same target within a short period of time? We need highly qualified human resources and financial resources.

If we look at student statistics in higher education, Cambodian students between 17-22 years old have an increased enrollment rate of 13% whilst in the region the growth rate is in between 20-30%. Additionally the majority of Cambodian students are interested in business where agriculture, engineering, math, chemistry, and physics, remain low, this reflects that the training of human resources in our country is not responding to the development demand of our country.

Prof. Dato and Dr. Morshidi Sirat, then shared the results of their study on Cambodian Higher Education over the past 10 years which should be used as background information to discuss the plans for the next 10 years. The key points of the report include the following:

  • Access and equity
  • Quality and efficiency
  • Curriculum and relevancy
  • Institutional capacity
  • System delivery

The key outcomes of the workshop consist of the following:

  • Priorities for long term planning for High-er Education are agriculture, engineering, architecture, math, chemistry, physics, and ASEAN priority program STEM.
  • Enhance curriculum diversification for priority programs in accordance with ASEAN standards.
  • MoEYS shall build a transparent system by involving different stakeholders such as relevant ministries, HEIs, organizations, and other relevant partners to im-prove effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Strengthen Internal Quality Assurance (IQA) systems within HEIs to be in line with the ASEAN standard.
  • Develop a wide range of policies including a policy on professor ranking.

In summary, at a policy level, MoEYS shall provide full autonomy to higher education institutions so they may run independently. However, MoEYS shall strengthen internal quality assurance systems to make them in line with the ASEAN standard. MoEYS will also work on developing a transparent system by in-volving different stakeholders to improve effective-ness and efficiency. Additionally, MoEYS shall en-courage HEIs to develop themselves by requesting the government to facilitate tax breaks for HEIs, and to seek for grants or loans with low interest for HEIs etc.

At the implementation level, universities need to develop short, medium and long-term plans that are in line with the Higher Education Vision 2030 and the Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018. In order to help the government reach their target to increase DP growth in 2030 and 2050 HEIs must focus on increasing enrollment in fields such as agriculture, engineering, architecture, math, chemistry, physics and ASEAN priority program STEM.