Cambodian lecturers’ pursuit of academic excellence: Expectations vs. reality

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The academic profession in Cambodia has been under growing pressure to pursue excellence in higher education. Nonetheless, various interpretations of what constitutes excellence persist across the public and private sectors, as lecturers follow disparate goals in teaching and research at various jobs and institutions. For many, the diversity of perspectives creates ambiguity and unclear directions for translating academic excellence into quality contribution to social development in the country. This paper illustrates how multiple interpretations and concerns create challenges, inhibiting progress of the Cambodian academic profession and society at large. Qualitative data from national policy papers, personal observations, focus group and expert interviews, were engaged to shed light on the intricacies of competing priorities, and the deficiencies of institutional and systemic support for the scholarly aspirations of the local faculty. The findings in this paper indicate that the lecturers’ limited capacity for intellectually-stimulating scholarship is often coupled with their own hesitation about committing themselves to inquiry-oriented academic work. This study argues that policies on advancing academic excellence can be effective only when the quest for excellence in service is well-matched with enhanced quality of intellectual engagement. Copyright © 2019 National Institute of Education, Singapore.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-236
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Issue number2
Early online dateJul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Oleksiyenko, A., & Ros, V. (2019). Cambodian lecturers’ pursuit of academic excellence: Expectations vs. reality. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 39(2), 222-236. doi: 10.1080/02188791.2019.1621797


  • Academic excellence
  • Academic profession
  • Higher education
  • Cambodia


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