Having read your article “Should university take stock in your thesis?” (LIFT 121, May 9, 2012), I would like to contribute my personal comments in response.
Last February, most mass media and social communication networks had broadcasted and discussed Royal University of Law and Economic’s official announcement prohibiting their students from pursuing certain research topics for their graduation thesis.
At that time, some scholars and civil societies considered this as controversial, citing political motivation as a violation of academic freedom.
However, I think there are legitimate reasons behind RULE’s ban on certain topics that need to be considered.
To begin with, Cambodian students will face many problems with their English proficiency because most documents related to these subjects are written in English. For example, the stock market is a new economic phenomenon in Cambodia. Most universities are lacking library resources with updated documents, textbooks and modern facilities. Students cannot access internet services to download e-books and academic journal papers.
Also, Cambodian universities have a shortage of qualified academics on these subjects who can supervise students’ theses in conformity with international standards. RULE doesn’t have research university status in Cambodia because of the constraints of low public financial support and incentives.
Finally, research findings on these banned topics could be wrong, due to the lack of available resources, thereby leading people and organisations to believe information that’s false. Some findings, which may not be true, could cause a negative internal backlash, as well as disturb social stability and even breach confidentiality.
Sam Rany is a graduate of law at RULE and currently a PhD Candidate at the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Educational Studies