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Study Shows 60% of Cambodian Students Choose Majors Based on Personal Interest

A new survey was conducted on subject or major of studies to be chosen by Cambodian students following their high schools. It showed that some 60 percent of students chose their major based on their personal interest rather than the market demand.

The survey, which was jointly conducted by students from University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) in the United States, and students from American University of Phnom Penh (AUPP), showed that only about 30 percent of the students chose their major based on the market demand for employment while the majority, 60 percent, of them chose their major based on their personal interest.

Dr. George Chigas, a UML professor of World Languages and Cultures who is conducting a study abroad program as part of the AUPP-UML partnership, said that during the month of June 2015, five research teams comprised of AUPP and UML students interviewed over 100 students from 15 different Cambodian youth organizations and universities.

The finding also suggested that about half of the students could name more than two jobs that would be relevant to their major, while the other half was only able to identify one or two jobs.

“In general, the preliminary findings indicate that Cambodian youth do not have a very clear or accurate perception about the job market or job availability,” Dr. Chigas said.

Dr. Chigas, however, said this study is only a pilot project that will help design all stakeholders in Cambodia to a full-scale project on youth education and employment in the coming year, and he said the finding will be of interest to the Ministry or Education, Youth and Sports as it works to revise and improve Cambodia’s system of education.

With the finding in hand, Dr. Chigas led more than a dozen students from AUPP and UML to the Ministry of Environment to meet with Minister Say Samal in order to discuss their research on Khmer youth.

During their two hour meeting, the students presented some of the findings of their research and received helpful feedback and suggestions from H.E. Say Samal who is also Vice President of the Union of Youth Federation of Cambodia.

H.E. Say Samal encouraged the AUPP-UML team to continue its research efforts and work with Cambodian youth organizations to gather additional data.

While acknowledging these findings are only preliminary, Dr. Chigas suggested that much more research is necessary before any definitive results will be obtained.

AUPP is the leading university in Cambodia with American curriculum, management, and highly qualified and experienced faculty.

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