Interview by Isbat Uk Dararath | Why Internationalisation Matters


My name is Uk Dararath. I graduated with Bachelor degrees in Education in English and International Studies from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. I am active in community service and leads a student association to facilitate student mobility. I have participated in and contributed to a number of policy dialogues on student mobility and Higher Education at ASEAN regional level. Working at university after my graduation, I also read and write in my personal blog, especially to engage with universities, student associations and fellow students to run social projects that benefit students and the community, in my free time. I am committed to support higher education institutions to improve education quality and foster community sustainable development.

When I first did my study mobility in 2016, I realized how important it is for university to internalise their institution and system as such internationalisation benfits not only me, as a student, personally but the institution itself as well as the whole world. Interested in internationalisation in university, I am eager to learn more how it matters, by interviewing a director of International Relations of my university, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Mr. Vong Chorvy. Mr. Chorvy serves his director position of his office for years and has participated many world conferences to discuss to find best practices for internationalisation.

International attentions and actions have been focusing on education as a mechanism to resolve challenges and to improve lives. With the global agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), education is regarded as a global integrated framework while it plays a significant role for realizing the other SDGs.

“Education serves as a means of implementation (MOI) that cuts across all of the SDGs and will support the overall achievement of the post-2015 development agenda, for which education is recognised as having one of the highest long-term returns on investment of all development goals,” Robert and Paul.

In a narrower context, internationalisation in education is significantly driven by universities. Internationalisation in university is viewed to optimise international opportunities and developments. To further understand internationalisation in university, this paper takes a case study of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, aiming to discuss about (1) the Purposes of university in internationalisation, (2) the Focuses or Policies of internationalisation, (3) the Benefits of internationalisation, and (4) the Relations between internationalisation in the university and the Sustainable DevelopmentGoals.Themethodofthisstudyis anIn-depthInterviewwiththedirectorof theInternational Relations Office (IRO) of the Royal University of Phnom Penh(RUPP).

Purposes of University inInternationalisation

RUPP is a flagship university of Cambodia, having the largest number of students. Not only is it a home for higher education to local students, but also to a number of exchange students. RUPP opens its doors for international mobility, which supports both inbound and outbound activities. Internationalisation is not new for the largest national university. The establishment of the International Relations Office (IRO) allowed to ease the process of internationalisation more than ever. The Director of IRO states that RUPP has clear and direct purposes for the internationalisation of the university. “First of all, we internationalise our institution to improve the quality of education,” said Mr. Vong

Chorvy, director of IRO. He continues saying that “in that sense we are committing and assisting our students and staff to move to different places, conferences, and study programmes.” He mentions that the university aims to send students and staff to experience different life in different places and different study programs from different countries. “That is very important and that is what RUPP has been doing to provide the best assistance to our inbound and outbound students,” he said.

Focuses or Policies of Internationalisation: Students Mobility, Credit Transfer, QualityAssurance

RUPP regards internationalisation as one of the priorities among others. “The internationalisation in RUPP focuses on student and staff mobility, conference and joint research,” said Mr. Chorvy. RUPP aims to assist students and staff mobility by having MOU with different universities across the world, partnering with various programmes, such as EU-SHARE and Erasmus programmes. In addition, to improve the process of internationalisation in university, RUPP also actively participates in international conferences on student mobility, credit transfer system and quality assurance. The university also welcomes joint research programmes with different institutions.

The Benefits of Internationalisation: Students, Teachers andCommunity

Mr. Chorvy stresses the importance of internationalisation in university: “It helps students and staff being exposed to different study programmes and culture and it is very important that they bring back the knowledge from the world to refine and develop our education and community.” He mentions that “not only does our job [internationalisation] help our university to provide better quality of education, but it also helps students and staff to strengthen their knowledge and skills for future job opportunities and social contribution.” He implies that by having study mobility, students are equipped with better knowledge, social skills and culture understanding and that helps them to find jobs more easily, locally or abroad. At the university level, internationalisation allows the exchange of ideas, knowledge and skills that help university to provide better study programmes to the students. At the community level, internationalisation in university allows students and staff to see the possibility of networking, to initiate social projects, and to support the community.

Relations between University Internationalisation and Sustainable DevelopmentGoals

When asked about the relations between internationalisation in university and the SDGs, Mr. Chorvy says there is a strong linkage between the two. “Education plays a vital role in supporting our basic daily life, responding to social and world change,” he explains. “SDGs are global commitments and those goals need global efforts. Internationalisation in university responds to the commitments because by internationalising our institution and boosting the mobility of our students and staff, we are partnering with others to see the problems and collaboratively find responsive solutions to reach our goal,” said Mr. Chorvy. He also mentions that education is important for achieving all of the other goals. If the university can produce quality education, it helps the citizens to respond to the problems effectively and if the university supports the students and staff to mobilise, it promotes students’ motivation, networks and cooperation that will turn into action to achieve all the goals.

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