The Swedish Embassy in Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) on Wednesday to fund a high-quality training and research institute.
The agreement is worth in the region of $10 million for a four-year pilot phase focusing on strengthening RUPP’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, as well as supporting scientific research and postgraduate training at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
“Scientific research is one of the cornerstones for sustainable development and as Cambodia aims to become a middle-income country, there is an urgent need to strengthen research capacity and create a funding system for research in-country."
“We see this pilot phase as the start of long-term cooperation that will support building research capacity in a number of scientific areas with relevance for the country’s development,” said Anna Maria Oltorp, head of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency’s (Sida) Research Cooperation Unit.
She said they selected RUPP as a partner as they had assessed that the university had the qualifications needed to become a flagship of higher education and research, as well as a trainer of researchers in different academic fields.
She said Sweden had cooperated with RUPP for over 10 years, supporting training and research in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, and that the upcoming pilot research cooperation programme expands it to the entire Faculty of Sciences and the Engineering.
As part of the programme, Sida will invest in research equipment and reliable ICT resources for the university, while PhD students will be trained in cooperation with Swedish partners.
Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, also heralded the partnership.
“The government of Cambodia recognises the importance of higher education and research as well as the need to ensure relevance and quality. Research is fundamental for innovation, and research depends on quality university education and well-trained researchers.
“We are very proud to enter into this research cooperation with Sweden which is a logical continuation and expansion of our cooperation in the education sector,” he said.
Established in 1960, RUPP is the oldest and largest public university in Cambodia with five faculties. It currently has almost 20,000 students enrolled across a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
RUPP’s rector Chet Chealy said the fund would make RUPP a national flagship university in teaching, research and community services.
“We are very happy with the support of Sweden to improve ICT systems and build research capacity in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” he said.