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In Cambodia Faculty Work Part-Time to Make Ends Meet in a Troubled Higher Education System

by Shane Worrell with additional reporting by Chhay Channyda

Corruption, funding shortages and an obsession with profit are plaguing the quality of university education in Cambodia, students say, driving them overseas in search of master’s and Ph.D. programs.

If the government hopes to keep its best and brightest at home, it must resolve these issues and build a world-class university system from within, said Sim Socheata, one of three Cambodians on scholarship at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who spoke about their frustrations with Cambodian education.

“It is time for Cambodians to start researching, analysing, drawing conclusions and suggesting what needs to be done . . . Up until now, this has been largely left to external advisers,” said the 29-year-old, who is studying for her master’s in public health.

Obstacles hindering Cambodia’s higher education system include low salaries for teachers – which force them into second jobs – a lack of materials and equipment and a “mushrooming” of the private system, which has encouraged a focus on profit over quality, and flooded the labor market with graduates who can’t find work in their field, she said.

Men Nimmith, 42, moved to Australia to study for a Ph.D. in law

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