Whenever scholarships are announced, hundreds of young Cambodians will apply for these opportunities. By attending schools abroad, they expect that they will have increased career opportunities when they return to the Kingdom. But is studying abroad really as helpful as many people students think?
Chhin Sreyleak, 21, is one of the lucky students who received a scholarship to study abroad.
“Besides pursuing a bachelor’s degree, I will learn a lot of social knowledge and understanding,” said Sreyleak, who will be studying in Italy.
“I will learn to be independent, confident, gain communication skills, and learn about the development of economies, societies, and culture and education systems in other countries.”
Meas Rous, an associate recruitment consultant at HRINC (Cambodia) Co Ltd, said it is never required for students to study abroad.
“[Getting hired] is based on the criteria and requirements of each company,” said Rous.
Seang Meng Aun, human resource and administration manager at Transparency International Cambodia, agreed.
“They will be judged for ability, experience and personal knowledge.”
However, he added that if two candidates have similar work experience and ability but only one of them had been abroad for a conference, workshop or study, he or she may be prioritised owing to the fact that they may be better in terms of communication abilities, foreign language skills and cultural outlook of the world.
Some employers specifically prefer applicants who have never been abroad. Norn Sinath, corporation support and human resource manager for Gender and Development for Cambodia, said she prefers hiring applicants who have not had the privilege to study at foreign universities.
“Generally, if they have similar experiences and knowledge, we prefer to give priority to a young person who has never studied or gained experience abroad.”
Sinath added that employment candidates who have experience living elsewhere have more chances and may be the first choice by other companies and organisations. Consequently, they prefer to be an organisation who gives help to people who may be overlooked elsewhere.
Although the extent to which studying abroad helps jobseekers find good careers, the experience of spending time in a foreign country seems to help students develop their skills and personal character.
“Even though studying abroad does not necessarily mean that I will get a very good job,” said Sreyleak, the student who is leaving for Italy to study, “at least the social knowledge that I learn abroad will help my credibility.”
Mao Sreng, director of IDP education and Australian Centre for Education (ACE), said the number of students who study abroad has increased every year. However, he said that studying abroad alone is not enough to ensure a good career.
“Even though students who graduated or studied abroad are not necessarily prioritised or selected, they are mostly educated and trained to have specialised skills, critical thinking, theories, English language skills and confidence. Those skill and knowledge will empower them to compete and qualify for job opportunities.”