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PM tells Royal Academy to up PhD standards

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PM Hun Sen was presiding over the inauguration of the new Indra Devi building and festivities commemorating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Academy of Cambodia. Hun Sen's Facebook page

PM tells Royal Academy to up PhD standards

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday instructed the Royal Academy of Cambodia to carefully scrutinise post-graduate candidates as he said the number of Cambodian PhD students was “too high”, with the Kingdom recording one of the highest ratios of PhD holders in the world.

Hun Sen was presiding over the inauguration of the new Indra Devi building and festivities commemorating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

“When there are too many PhD holders, we have address this matter. I have said before that we need to look at how many students each tutor has. And are the tutors fully qualified to teach the students? This is something we must investigate,” he said.

Hun Sen advised the Royal Academy to carefully ensure the quality of its students’ education by forming a properly qualified doctoral defence committee. He said the defence committee currently consists of seven people, which seemed inadequate.

“There were up to 15 defence committee members when I defended my PhD in science, which took two hours.

“So the defence committee needs to be strengthened, and its decisions on whether a candidate has passed or not must be made in secret. If we don’t strengthen this, it’s not good,” Hun Sen said.

He said he never expected Cambodia to have so many degree holders, and only properly qualified candidates should be permitted to study for post-graduate degrees.

He mentioned an unnamed university where many of the students did not attend classes, but come exam time, would just copy and paste their thesis from someone else.

“They just copied from each other and they passed. Even for master’s degrees, they just copied.

“The tutors did not have time to proofread their theses, so the candidates just kept passing and receiving degrees,” he said. “Where is the quality?”

Hun Sen said some students could not afford to study at university but tried to conduct research by themselves, and this should be appreciated and encouraged.

He told the Royal Academy to establish a library in its main building in order to attract more people to come and carry out research.

The prime minister said he would also provide financial support for translating documents from other languages into Khmer, and the documents should be stored at the Royal Academy and distributed to other libraries.

Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

People’s Centre for Development and Peace president Yong Kim Eng said post-graduate candidates must be properly qualified before graduating with a degree.

“If the Kingdom is to develop and advance in all sectors, it starts with human resources, especially at the post-graduate level, because they are a core part of society.

“So, if the core part of society just has a title or a degree but without quality, what will our society become?

“But improvement in quality should not be only be made at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, but also at all institutions and universities that offer post-graduate degrees.

“We should reform our educational standards and make the system accurate, transparent and high quality in order to raise the profile of our education sector as well as the profile of our country,” he said.

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