Just this week, four British universities were ranked among the top six in the world by the acclaimed QS World University Rankings. Of course this makes British higher education an export hit, even in Cambodia. The College of Higher Education (CHE) in Phnom Penh teaches the highly recognised syllabus of the Institute of Administrative Management of the University of Buckingham. Because CHE facilitates official exams that reward students with an internationally recognised certificate, the educational offer is highly sought after by Cambodian students, some of whom use it as preparation to study in the United Kingdom. The Post’s Moeun Nhean sat down with Cristina Sanders, CHE’s dean of academics, to find out more about the attractiveness of a British university style curriculum.
When and with what purpose was the school established in Cambodia?
College of Higher Education was established in October 2012 by Aldwin Tay, a Chinese-Malay businessman educated in the UK, and Philip Dews, a British businessman and educator. The university was created with the vision of being a pathway to a UK degree. It is our desire to see Cambodian students become academically and professionally competitive with their peers in the surrounding ASEAN countries. All of the programs offered by CHE are from the UK.
What level or grades of education does the school offer to students and who recognises the certificate?
The College of Higher Education offers university level courses recognised and accredited by our partners in the UK. In October, we will be starting our new semester offering three levels of Cambridge Business English and a certificate course in Business and Administration skills. For both of these programs, the certificates will be issued from the UK upon successful completion of course requirements and exams.
In early 2015, we will begin the Buckinghamshire New University’s International Foundation Programme. Once successfully completed, the students will have the opportunity to continue their studies either in the UK at Buck’s New University or to continue their bachelor degree in Business Management at College of Higher Education in Cambodia. Once this program has been launched, we will continue to work to offer more programs in other areas of business.
We will also be working with various international schools in Phnom Penh to help prepare high school students for choosing their future careers and to study in the UK.
What are the special characteristics of the school you feel Cambodian students would benefit most from?
We are the first university in Cambodia to offer a fully accredited and internationally recognised British degree program. We are working hard to bring the best internationally recognised accredited programs from the UK to Cambodia to help prepare Cambodian students for international jobs within Cambodia or abroad. Some parents may not be comfortable with sending their children to the UK. We are now able to offer the same degree through Bucks’s New University here in Cambodia. Class sizes are limited in order to have a greater amount of personal contact with their instructor for advice and to help in their understanding of the course work. All of our programs go through a rigorous initial validation process and are held to UK standards. Once we are approved to offer the course, we are then subjected to external verification procedures to ensure that we are maintaining the required standards according to the awarding partner organisation.
Is the tuition fee affordable for the Cambodian middle class?
Anyone who has a desire to earn a business degree or certifications from the UK is able to apply to our school. For most programs, students will need to have finished high school and have an IELTS score of 5.0, except for the English programs.
Our tuition fees are competitive with other international high schools and universities. We are a much more affordable option for families who want a UK education without the high costs of sending their child abroad.
How is the quality of the teachers and are they both Khmers and foreigners – what countries they are from?
All instructors are required to be first language native English speakers. They are also hired based on their areas of expertise with many years of professional experience in their field. They bring a great amount of practical experience and a desire to impart their knowledge to their students. The primary countries that the instructors come from are the UK and the US.
Do you have anything to tell parents and students about your school?
We are here to help your student achieve their academic and career goals. We focus on building a student’s knowledge, practical skills, language abilities, and confidence to help each student to be successful and competitive in the job market. The student’s success and achievement is our greatest reward.