Higher Education in Cambodia: Challenges to Promote Greater Access and Higher Quality

  • Yuto Kitamura


Higher education in many developing countries has been undergoing rapid expansion in recent years. In Asia in particular, new universities are proliferating, resulting in a remarkable expansion of higher education. Even in countries where formerly only a few percent of the university age population actually had gone onto higher education, the percentage has risen dramatically since the 1990s. Cambodia is no exception.

The purposes of this chapter are to identify the issues surrounding qualitative improvement in the rapidly expanding higher education sector of Cambodia and based on the analysis thereof, to discuss the way forward for higher education reform in Cambodia.

Higher education in Cambodia has been facing major issues in the aspects of access, equity, quality, relevance, funding, and administrative management. Among the many issues faced by Cambodian universities, this chapter highlights quality issues as the most serious problem. There is insufficient progress in system improvement to guarantee the quality of education. Accreditation has only recently been implemented. The course credit system cannot yet be said to be operating to full advantage to meet the needs of students; even where the system has been introduced, issues such as constraints on the universities’ management capacity have posed problems.

This chapter points out another major issue which is that a majority of graduates have completed their higher education without necessarily being equipped with the knowledge and skill sets required by the labor market. There has been a considerable mismatch between the subjects of university majors and extant job opportunities today. This is one of the reasons for the high unemployment rate among university graduates.

This chapter includes a summary of the findings of a questionnaire survey conducted on university academic staff concerned with the quality of education and research in Cambodian higher education institutions (HEIs). Compared to the higher education sector in many other Asian countries, this chapter reveals that university academic staff in Cambodia are working in a very difficult environment.

As Cambodian society aims to undergo further development not only in economic but also in political, social, and cultural terms, the role to be played by higher education is bound to increase in importance. This chapter concludes by stating that many university academic staff are fully aware of the significance of the social responsibility they shoulder in playing this important role and are making constant, energetic and valiant efforts in delivering expected results.


High Education Academic Staff High Education System High Education Sector Khmer Rouge 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuto Kitamura
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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