THE REGIONAL CONTEXT
The university dynamic within the Southeast Asian region is part of a changing environment, whether it is economic, environmental, technological, cultural, social, or legal, whether it is local, national, or regional. These changes affect how we define and operate traditional academic missions of higher education institutions (HEIs), considering all the challenges they are facing:
Demographic pressure and generalization of compulsory secondary education.
Socio-economic impact of the development of the middle classes with consequences on the demand for continuing education.
Technological and more generally digital developments
Prospects for institutional empowerment and the search for diversification of financial resources.
Definition and implementation of a contextualized quality approach in the fields of professional training and research-innovation (non-exhaustive list).
These ongoing changes in Cambodia and Vietnam must be seen as challenges that HEIs must take up: whatever their environment or level of development, they are aware of the need to include these changes in the definition and implementation of their strategic development plans, in order to enable them to fully assume their social responsibility.
Thinking of the world of education and research as a strategic driver of development presupposes, however, that certain challenges be met beforehand, such as the identification of society's training needs. It is through dialogue between the academic world and socio-economic actors that shared solutions can be developed, and thus strengthen the coherence between the socio-economic needs of a society and the training offer of a HEI, particularly regarding its first professional cycles. It is also a question of valorizing the innovation resulting from research and its positive impact on the socio-economic environment, and of relying on models of technology transfer that have already been tried and tested in order to study their transposition to other conditions and environments.
In addition to this challenge linked to a changing environment, there is another challenge: the political will of the Cambodian and Vietnamese governments to empower HEIs.
On November 19, 2018, the National Assembly enacted Law no.34/2018/QH14, which revises the Higher Education Law no.08/2012/QH13 passed in June 2012. This new law, which will come into force from July 1, 2019, makes major adjustments to the higher education development policy regarding the generalization of the empowerment process.
The strategic directions of the Higher Education Policy - Vision 2030 - require HEIs to "develop a plan to improve governance and management in the higher education sector" and to "develop a plan for the creation of a 'model' university in Cambodia that operates autonomously and of high quality.