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The Center for Banking Studies

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Nguon Sovan

What does it offer?

Most universities provide a major in banking and finance to students, hopefully providing them with most of what they need to know regardless of the direction their career takes them. The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), the country's central bank, takes a much narrower approach to the sector, providing a finishing school for those who wish to work in the sector.

It offers associate degrees only with a banking and finance major to specifically prepare graduates for work in microfinance institutions and commercial banks. As well as focusing on the technical aspects of banking and finance, it also provides intensive English-language training. The associate degree takes two years, broken into four semesters.

 The school also plans to create classes for a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, but it is currently growing step-by-step based on demand for graduates from the banking sector, which is still relatively small.

Running the show

The school's director is Ou Sivarin. He has been in the job since 2006, before which he worked in the legislation department of the NBC. He is a very old hand at the national bank, having served as the director of the Preah Sihanouk province branch from the time the NBC was formed in 1979 at the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. He has a bachelor's degree in banking and finance from the Banking and Finance School in Phnom Penh, where he attended from 1984 to 1988.

The professors

The professors in the school are mostly veterans in the banking sector, many of them experienced specialists from the NBC.


The school receives students once a year at each year end. Applicants must hold a high school diploma. Many of the students also come from the central bank, though they must have been there for at least two years before they are accepted. It used to be that only 500 or 600 students applied for the course each year, but in the last couple of years about 1,000 students have applied.

In principle, the school recruits only 120 students, but due to rapid growth in the banking and finance sector, it has increased its intake to about 150 or 160 students a year. As a result, the entry test is known for being difficult to pass. Subjects assessed include mathematics, English, and general knowledge about banking and finance. There are no age limis.

Fees, scholarships and grants

As a public institution, it is nonprofit, but students must pay $500 for the two-year course. NBC staff with at least two years working at the bank study for free. The payments can be made by the semester, by the year or in a lump sum. There are currently no scholarships or grants, but the school is considering creating some for elite students or poor students from rural areas.

Onwards and upwards

Some commercial banks and microfinance institutions ask the centre to recommend  outstanding students for positions in their institutions. Around 80 percent to 90 percent of the graduates from the school end up working in a position that matches their skill set. Around 10 percent of all students fail the rigourous exit exam.

From the halls of the Center for Banking Studies

Nhem Luch, professor of IT and the chief of the studies office:

"I am proud to be a professor in the school because more than 80 percent of our graduates have been offered the right job in banks or microfinance in their specialisation. Compared to graduates from other schools, our graduates are higher quality." 

Hak Lang Ham, 18, second-year student:

"The school educates us to be very disciplined. Because it mainly focuses on the major, I feel as if I am already in a work environment when I am at school. It's helping us get accustomed to working. When I graduate, I want to get a job in a commercial bank."  

Eung Chan Leakana, 19,

second-year student:

"Overall, the school has very tight discipline, which is applied to both professors and students. Moreover, lecturers are very experienced, which makes it easy to catch up with the latest knowledge. I want to get a position in the National Bank of Cambodia when I graduate."


Office: 22-24 Preah Norodom Blvd,

Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tel: 023 725 105/ 012 806 862


Overview, interviews and photos by Nguon Sovan



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