Kong Chhayly, a university student studying international relations (IR), has no idea how to use his education. He said that IR courses are either too basic or teach outdated theories and have hardly anything to do with the real field. Although he is almost ready to graduate, he said that his BA degree has not helped him prepare for his career.
Most IR students these days want to work for NGOs or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which mostly deals with interstate issues. Chhayly thought that an IR degree would him get those jobs. But after working for the United Nations Development Program during a short-term internship, he felt he had very little understanding about what the organisation does and the procedures it uses.
“I had taken courses on the United Nations, I read about it and knew its goal and objectives very well,” said Chhayly. “But when I got into the real work field, there was nothing I learned from university that related to the work I was doing at all.”
He said that his experiences have led him to question the point of a university education.
“In normal cases, you can choose to do an internship to replace your senior project. But if you have to wait for your internship to get the knowledge you need to work in the field, what is the purpose of university in the first place? I could gain the knowledge from the internship alone, so why did I have to go to university?”