Leng, P. (2013). Foreign influence on Cambodian higher education since the 1990s. Mind & Time, Special Issue 2013/2014, 1-29.

Author: - September , 2013


This study examines how foreign influence has affected the Cambodian higher education system following the country’s adoption of a free market economy with multiple party politics over the past two decades. Examining various sources, the study has found that during the first half of the 1990s, foreign influence took two major forms: (1) the adoption of educational reforms initiated by international organizations, and (2) foreign assistance which comes with conditions. After the introduction of the policy of privatization of higher education in the mid-1990s, other modes of foreign influence have emerged and become influential, including foreign languages, foreign teaching staff, Cambodian scholars educated abroad, and, more recently, collaborations between local and foreign institutions. The study’s central argument is that although it helps develop the country, foreign influence since the early 1990s has created numerous issues for Cambodian society at large, and for the higher education system in particular. These issues include the impact on institutional autonomy, conflicting ideologies between local and foreign scholars, and growing unemployment among university graduates due to a mismatch between educational provision and the skills needed for the economy. All of the above have contributed to the fragmentation of the higher education system. In spite of being focused on the last twenty years or so, the study also discusses the similarly negative impact of foreign influence on (higher) education in earlier periods. This is meant to provide scholars, policy-makers and other stakeholders with a critical understanding of the issues in historical perspective and to direct their attention to counteracting current and, where possible, avoiding future adverse effects.



Dr Chea Phal

Research Fellow

Dr Chea Vatana

Research Associate

HENG Sambath

Research Assistant

KEO Borin, MEc

(On study leave)


Senior Research Fellow

LENG Phirom, PhD

Research Fellow / Unit Head

TEK Muy Tieng

Research Assistant

YOU Saokeo Khantey

Research Associate