16th January 2019 – Sweden signed an agreement to fund Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) to build capacity for high-quality research training and research in Cambodia. This 4-year pilot-phase agreement is worth around 10 million US dollars and the cooperation will initially focus on strengthening the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure at RUPP and supporting capacity development for scientific research and postgraduate training at the Faculties 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 a long-term cooperation that will support building research capacity in a number of scientific areas with relevance for the country’s development” said AnnaMaria Oltorp, Head of the Research Cooperation Unit of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
“The first step in this cooperation will be with RUPP as we assess the university to have the qualifications needed to become a flagship of higher education and research, and by that being able to train researchers in different academic fields” she added.
Sweden has cooperated with RUPP for over 10 years supporting training and research in the areas of Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. The upcoming pilot research cooperation expands this support to the whole Faculty of Sciences and the Bioengineering Department at the Faculty of Engineering with research capacity building including training of PhD students in cooperation with Swedish partners and investment in research equipment.
Moreover, the cooperation supports the creation of reliable ICT resources for the whole university.
“The government of Cambodia recognises the importance of higher education and research as well as the need to assure relevance and quality. Research is the fundament for innovations and 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” H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports said.
Established in early 1960, RUPP is the oldest and largest public university in Cambodia. The university has five faculties, such as Faculty of Science, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Development Studies, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Engineering, one institute (Institute of Foreign Languages) and one graduate school (Graduate School of Science). The university currently hosts almost 20,000 scholarship and full-fee paying students, across a diverse range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
“Our goal is to 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” said Dr. Chet Chealy, Rector of RUPP.
Sweden has since the late 1970s supported programs aiming to build research capacity in low income countries. In Cambodia, Sweden has been one of the largest donors and played a major role in the development of the education sector. With this new agreement, Sweden will also become one of the largest donors supporting research capacity building in Cambodia.