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If you wish to study in Cambodia in order to develop your skills while having something interesting to put on your resume, then you'll be pleased to know it's possible and relatively simple to do so.

Phnom Penh has several universities that offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programmes in a range of subjects that are taught in English. The quality of English can vary among instructors, but it is usually of an acceptable standard. Some expats have reported that classes can be quite noisy, so it's a good idea to sit near the front of the class if you can.

You likely won't meet many other western students studying at a Cambodian university (most international students tend to be from other ASEAN countries), so you're likely to be quite a fascinating anomaly to the students, and may be asked lots of questions, especially with regards to English pronunciation.

Tuition for foreign students is generally much more affordable than in developed countries, and textbooks shouldn't break the bank. However, you may find bureaucracy to be quite tedious in higher education institutes in Cambodia, as certain administrative tasks can be more difficult than need be, especially when dealing with anything that's not the norm. That said, you're also likely to find that staff and students are very friendly and helpful.

Alternatively, you may like to complete a TEFL or CELTA course in Cambodia so that you can teach English in the country or in the region. Or you could choose to study another skill, such as Khmer boxing or Khmer language classes. Whatever your interest, there are some interesting study options in Cambodia and, although the country isn't widely recognised for its academic opportunities and it's not necessarily a place to obtain a world-class degree, it can still offer an informative and affordable educational experience.

Universities

The two main university options for foreigners in Cambodia is Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC) and The University of Cambodia (UC). The academic standards are similar in both of these institutions, but PUC has more international teachers and staff, and annual tuition is slightly higher for foreign students. However, it would be the first choice for some expats, especially those trying to transfer credits from a university overseas.

PUC is centrally located at about half a kilometre south of the Independence Monument on Norodom Boulevard, whereas UC can be found on Northbridge Road, just 300 metres south of Russian Federation Boulevard.

Class schedules can vary depending on the university or course, and can take place in the mornings, afternoons, evenings and on weekends.

Requirements

To enroll on an undergraduate course in Cambodia, you'll need to provide an original or certified copy of your high school qualifications. And if you wish to be accepted for a Master's degree, you'll need to have completed a Bachelor's degree.

No matter what the type of degree, you may be required to take an English proficiency test and an entrance exam beforehand.

Credit transfer between a western college or university is possible but may require a dean or a head of department to negotiate with the Ministry of Education, so this is something you should discuss with the university before applying. Do be aware that transfer of credits between different Cambodian institutions can sometimes be tricky, so it's best to thoroughly research where you want to study before you make commitments.

Once you have decided on where you want to study, you'll need to register for your courses during the registration period before the start of each term, and pay your tuition fees on time. Do be warned that if you don't register or pay fees on time, you will likely be required to pay penalties.

Student Visas

Previously, there wasn't such a thing as student visas in Cambodia, and you'd simply get a tourist visa or a business visa without a work permit. If the course that you are doing is run on an informal basis for less than a month, such as a scuba diving or Khmer cooking course, then it could still be worth applying for an ordinary tourist visa while you are studying. However, if you are pursuing formal education in Cambodia, then the Immigration Department has recently revealed two new types of visa — retirement visas (ER) and student visas (ES). The prices for these visas are the same as for the business visa — US$160 for six months and US$290 for one year.

To obtain a student visa, you will need to submit an official letter from your chosen education institute that confirms your enrolment. Do be aware that officials are starting to crack down on visa regulations in Cambodia, and you could be subject to considerable fines (or even incarceration or deportation) if you are caught breaking any rules by immigration officials.

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