History

Thursday 28 January 2016 03:09:00

After coming back to Cambodia from the United States in the early 1990's, discussions with many academics and other intellectuals, both Cambodian and foreign, led Dr. Kao Kim Hourn to conclude that there was an absolute need for a reputable university which sought to open up the world at large to the next generation of bright young Cambodians, to compensate for the depredations suffered by their parents. This required the design and implementation of programs which broadened the students' perspectives (especially necessary given the limitations of the education offered by high schools – another consequence of our recent history); to this end, he selected the American, credit-based system as a model. Furthermore, he realized that, to broaden the students' outlook, it was necessary to teach these programs in the medium of English: not only would this make them more marketable in a globalizing world, but it also expanded the pool of potential teachers, through collaborative exchange agreements with universities elsewhere in Asia and beyond.

As a result of these discussions, together with the input of his own finance and the donation of capital and books, computers, and other materials by various contributors, the University of Cambodia was established. It was officially opened by Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on 23 June, 2003. Originally located in three leased buildings just south of the Independence Monument, today the University is firmly established on over 3 hectares of land in the middle of Phnom Penh, and comprise of a state of the art building that can accommodate over 10,000 students.  In additionally, on UC Phnom Penh campus contains the internationally recognized SEATV and Radio stations.   
 
Since its founding, The University of Cambodia (UC) has become one of the leading and most reputable higher education institutions in Cambodia. It is an intellectual community where students learn how to explore their curiosities, create and share knowledge, refine and challenge ideas, promote greater understanding, and serve their families and communities. The rigorous and supportive learning environment at UC fosters open and constructive dialogue and promotes strong critical, analytical, and creative thinking skills among students, while preparing them to address the increasingly complex issues in society and discover meaning in their own lives through offering innovative undergraduate, graduate and professional courses. The University recognizes a need to train and nurture a new generation of highly capable young thinkers who contribute to the intellectual, economic and social development of Cambodia, and who lead with values, integrity and compassion. It is firmly committed to serving students and the community in this capacity.
 
These values of the University are reflected in its pair of mottoes, “In Pursuit of Knowledge, Wisdom, and Building Tomorrow’s Leaders.”
 
The University’s Colleges, Departments, Centers, and Institutes are officially recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), and the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC). In addition, UC is also a member of the Cambodian Higher Education Association (CHEA).
 
The University of Cambodia is a private university that offers a range of degrees including Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral programs dedicated to opening young minds to the wonders of the world through academic discovery and exploration, and connecting classroom theories to real-world applications. Modeled after the standard American system, the University boasts a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum providing students with flexibility and broader general knowledge, and it uses English as the medium of communication in all of its courses. In addition, the University’s Academic Foundation Department (AFD) helps incoming students transition into university learning through its Foundation Year courses. Collectively, these features help make UC students more competitive when they enter the globalized job market.
 
The University operates six Colleges comprised of:
· College of Arts and Humanities
· College of Education
· College of Law
· College of Management
· College of Science and Technology
· College of Social Sciences
 
The University is also currently in the process of launching two new schools, the School of Government and International Affairs and the College of Media and Communications, in the near future. The Colleges and Departments at UC are widely recognized for academic excellence.  The College of Management earned distinction as one of the leading business schools in Cambodia when it won the 2008 “Good Business Schools - 2 Palms Award” by the Eduniversal International Scientific Committee.
 
To help students achieve their highest aspirations and contribute to Cambodia’s development, the University established the Samdech Techo Hun Sen - Haruhisa Handa National Scholarships Award and Samdech Techo Hun Sen's Vision-100 Scholarships which covers full tuition for outstanding students. 
 
Thanks to the generosity and support of Worldmate and the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, the Samdech Techo Hun Sen – Haruhisa Handa National Scholarship has helped over 1,500 students achieve higher education at Cambodia’s finest university, The University of Cambodia.
 
Equally, thanks to the generosity of Thakral Group of Companies and its Executive Director, Dr. Rikhi Thakral, the Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s Vision-100 Scholarships has help hundreds of needy students from various providences across Cambodia pursue their academic passion at the best university in Cambodia, UC.
 
In addition, the University has also awarded the Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s Vision-100 Scholarships for 100 outstanding students in 2012 through the generosity of Okhna Thai Chea Huot, Director General of Borei Peng Huot Investment Co. Ltd, and 50 scholarships through the generosity of Khmer Brewery Company.  The University will award another 100 scholarships in 2013 to the best academic students who can perform well in its national scholarship exam.
 
The scholarship programs at UC provide academically-gifted students with access to higher education, and attract Cambodia’s best and brightest students to vie for the highly competitive scholarships. In addition to those scholarships above, UC has provided more than 2,500 other full and partial scholarships to students since its inception in 2003 to contribute to Cambodia’s human resource development.
 
UC also attracts the best and brightest to serve on its faculty and staff. An experienced and diverse UC faculty brings excellence and innovation into the classroom and responds to the needs of students, while UC staff members are leaders in their fields who are dedicated to preparing students for future leadership roles in Cambodia and abroad. Members of the staff and faculty—consisting of international and local educators, scholars, researchers, and practitioners—have academic interests and professional expertise that span across many disciplines, and have published in reputable academic journals.
 
To complement the classroom learning experience, the University operates several prominent Institutes and Centers that aim to help students develop their full intellectual and human potential. The Asia Leadership Center (ALC) delivers excellent workshops, lectures, and trainings to help students and community members develop leadership knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It continues to host the ALC Eminent Leaders Lecture Series at UC, bringing highly distinguished leaders and experts to lecture on a wide variety of topics for the benefit of students and community members.
 
In 2010, the ALC, in cooperation with the International Peace Foundation and with the generous support of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture, had the honor of hosting nine Nobel laureates and other distinguished visitors as part of the “Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace” series, one of its most successful and widely attended events. Another major center at UC is the Center for English Studies (CES), which provides intensive language preparatory courses to help Cambodian students prepare for and succeed in university level courses conducted in English. In addition, CES also offers programs in English as a Second Language (ESL) and English for office work and business. It has successfully trained thousands of students since its opening, and continues to be a leader among English language training centers in the country. Other Institutes and Centers at UC include the Institute for Research and Advanced Studies, Institute for Technical and Professional Training, Center for ASEAN and East Asian Studies, and Center for International Studies.
 
In addition to its Centers and Institutes, the University boasts one of the country's and region’s most prominent think tanks, the Asia Economic Forum (AEF). The AEF organizes an annual forum to promote policy dialogue on major issues facing Asia and has successfully convened in Phnom Penh every year since 2004. The annual AEFs attract the participation of highly distinguished guests that include high-level government officials, policymakers, scholars, researchers, public and private sector leaders, and youth leaders from around the region and the world. In addition to the AEF, UC also organizes the Asia Faiths Development Dialogue (AFDD).
 
In the short time since its founding, UC has quickly become a leader in scholarship, research and publication. It publishes the Journal of Cambodian Studies—the only research journal among Cambodian universities—and is the first university in Cambodia to run a Distinguished Lecture Series and a Visiting Research Fellows program. In collaboration with partner organizations, the University has welcomed a number of international researchers as Fellows during the past several years. For example, it has hosted World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) Fellows who have researched the role of religion and religious leaders in the context of development in the country, and have published critical findings that expand the breadth of research centered on Cambodia. The University has also hosted Handa Fellows from Japan, as well as Paul Heng Fellows from Ohio University’s Global Leadership Center (GLC), to promote intercultural understanding and the sharing of academic knowledge and experiences. Building and sustaining a culture of research and scholarship continues to be a priority at UC through key initiatives that include original research conducted by students and faculty, publications by the University of Cambodia Press, and the enhancement of the Toshu Fukami Library. UC has an extensive library collection that is available to the public, and is expanding its services to include an e-library that provides students and users with access to free and downloadable academic journals and e-books, in addition to links to reputable academic e-resources, and historical and art collections from around the world.
 
Students at UC are encouraged to not only excel in the classroom, but also in their extracurricular activities and personal endeavors. UC has one of the most active and developed student organizations in the country, with UC Student Senate (UCSS) members organizing successful university-wide functions that include educational, social, cultural, and community service activities. This includes creating and broadcasting a weekly student radio talk show, “Life and Study,” on Southeast Asia Radio (FM 106) that engages youth in critical dialogue focused on how to improve one’s life and studies. The UC Speech and Debate Society (UCSDS) is another leading student organization on campus. It is one of the most successful university debate organizations in Cambodia, winning first place numerous times throughout the years in national debate competitions. All students are invited to participate in UCSDS, which continues to provide excellent speech and debate training to its members. Most recently, the University created a new student organization, Red Cross Youth of UC (which is recognized by the Cambodian Red Cross), to help improve the lives of vulnerable people throughout Cambodia, and is in the process of launching an ASEAN youth organization at UC.
 
Several active volunteer groups also play an important role in building capacity at UC. For example, a group of students deliver life skills training workshops to their peers through a collaborative effort between UC and a local NGO, the People Health Development Association; while another group meets to improve their writing skills and contribute to the reporting and designing of UC’s quarterly newsletter, The UC Bulletin. Another group of volunteer students are collaborating with a group of Japanese university students who have written and published a textbook that will be distributed to Cambodian schoolchildren to encourage reading and knowledge sharing among the youth. As demonstrated by the various organizations and volunteer groups, student leadership and student activities are thriving at UC, and have greatly contributed to the learning experiences of students and to the growth and development of the University.
 
Academic rigor, English language fluency, leadership, innovation, creativity, and service are among the many skills that UC emphasizes to students through its coursework and extracurricular offerings, and these skills make UC students highly competitive for international scholarships. For example, in 2011, UC celebrated the selection of 14 outstanding UC students as scholarship recipients to study abroad, with all expenses covered for tuition, room and board, and travel for a majority of them. Four undergraduate UC students have studied abroad for one-two semesters at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand through a special collaboration between the two universities. In addition, two undergraduate students won scholarships for year-long academic study abroad programs in the United States for the 2011-2012 academic year; and one student won a scholarship to study abroad in France for one semester. Four undergraduate students were also selected to participate in summer educational and cultural exchange programs sponsored by the U.S Embassy in Phnom Penh, and spent several weeks in the United States learning about leadership, environmental issues, and the English language. Thus, to date, 56 former UC students and lecturers  have won competitive scholarships covering full tuition and living expenses to enter multi-year Master’s degree programs in Australia, China, England, Europe, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia,  Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and the United States. The University is very proud of the accomplishments of its students, staff, and faculty members, and it continues to support their academic aspirations through its scholarship programs and services. 
 
Alumni constitute another vital component of the UC community. As the number of UC alumni grows with every graduating class, so too does their contribution to the workforce, families, and society—contributions which make the University very? proud. UC alumni have gone on to become leading professionals in the business and legal community, government officials in the different Ministries, and leaders in prominent NGOs, among many other successful professions. The University supports the development of alumni and celebrates their successes through the UC Alumni Association (UCAA). In addition to providing alumni with a professional network of peers, the organization connects them back to UC and encourages them to contribute to the student body through professional workshops, lectures, and networking opportunities.
 
Since 2004, UC has conferred honorary degrees on 32 exceptionally distinguished visitors, including nine Nobel laureates in 2009 and 2010, to honor their contributions to a specific field or to society in general. Honorary Doctorate recipients include:
 
2004 Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen in Political Science
        Dr. Rikhi Thakral in Humanity
        H.E. Masajuro Shiokawa in Humanity
2005 H.E. Keat Chhon in Development Economics
        Lord George Carey of Clifton (a former Archbishop of Canterbury) in Humanity
        Takayoshi Matsui in Humanity
2006 H.E. Sok An in Political Science
        Professor Katherine Marshall in Humanity
        Paul Wenson Heng in Business Administration
2007 H.E. Rho Jun Hyong in Management
        H.E. Tea Banh in Military Science
        H.E. Cham Prasidh in Trade and Economic Integration
        H.E. Koji Omi in Public Service
        Yohei Sasakawa in Humanity
        Richard E. Dyck in Humanity
2008 LCT Bun Rany Hun Sen in Humanity
        H.E. Jose de Venecia Jr. in International Relations
        H.E. Horst Posdorf in Public Administration
2009 Dr. Aaron J. Ciechanover in Science
           Dr. David Jonathan Gross in Science
        Dr. Eric S. Maskin in Economics
        Dr. Jackie Chan in Arts
2010 H.E. José Manuel Ramos-Horta in Political Science
        H.E. Marty Natalegawa in International Relations
        Dr. Achyuta Samanta in Humanity
        Dr. Akishige Tada in Public Service
        Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi in Science
        Dr. Oliver Stone in Arts and Humanity
        Dr. Torsten Nils Wiesel in Science
2011 H.E. Sichan Siv in Public Service
        H.E. Khieu Kanharith in Media and Communications
        Professor Ito Kenichi in International Affairs
        Dr. Greg Emery in Humanities
2013 Dr. Ralph A. Cossa in International Affairs
 
The University of Cambodia is also dedicated to improving educational access to those who need it the most: citizens and youth around the country, particularly those not enrolled in formal education programs. To provide citizens with access to educational and cultural information, and to provide UC students with opportunities to explore learning in a real-world context, the University launched its own newspaper (starting as The Cambodia Weekly and then renamed to the Southeast Asia Weekly) in 2006, a radio station (Southeast Asia Radio, SEA Radio, FM 106) in 2008, and a television station (Southeast Asia Television, SEATV, Channel 31) in January 2010, with the motto of “Education, Culture, Information.” SEATV has the largest television facility in the country and broadcasts one of the country’s most popular shows, “Gems Being Crafted.” UC is the only university in Cambodia and the region with these media outlets.
 
Because of both the limited resources available locally and the worldwide trend towards globalization, the University has established and continues to establish formal partnerships with prominent universities in the region and elsewhere, as well as with local and regional institutions. It has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with universities in the United States, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, China, and Japan to strengthen international collaboration in research, academia, and intercultural understanding. UC has also established links with local organizations and associations, including UNDP, the Asia Foundation, the European Union (EU), and the NGO People Health Development Association. These partnerships provide UC students and staff access to outstanding educational networks and resources through increased opportunities for the exchange of students, staff, experiences, and ideas.
 
The University of Cambodia has the highest aspirations and is deeply committed to creating diverse opportunities for rigorous learning, research, open dialogue, and meaningful interaction between its students, faculty, staff, and members of society. It aims to inspire individuals to have a deep appreciation for life-long learning, intellectual development and personal growth, innovation, and humanity; it also aims to instill the values of academic excellence and personal integrity, and the spirit of giving back to academia, families, and society. The University would like to express its sincere appreciation to its students, families, donors, friends, and supporters, and sincerely hope that you continue to support UC as it continues to grow, consolidate and flourish.