Because of many reasons, for example, between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime forced the cessation of formal education. Schools and Universities were closed and destroyed and teaching services decimated. People who they perceived as intellectuals or even those who had stereotypical signs of learning, such as glasses, were killed. The educational buildings and facilities were destroyed, and it is estimated that 75% of tertiary teachers and 96% of university students were killed. In 1980, the Ecole Normale Supérieure reopened, again teaching predominantly in French. The following year university focused on training students to become teachers, thus rebuilding the education system within Cambodia. During the past decade, the total number of students enrolled in HEIs increased nearly tenfold, from a modest 10.000 students in 1997 to 97.524 in 2006, and to 168.000 in 2009. The steep rate of increase in HEI student enrolment is a function of the mushrooming of HEIs between 1997 and 2009.
However, most of universities (mostly private sectors) are located in the capital city, and several universities were recently established beyond the capital between 2007 and 2009 to provide higher education (HE) services to people who live in rural areas. The expansion of university education in both developed and developing countries is clearly linked to concerns about quantity and quality of human resources and the demand and supply of higher‐level skilled professionals, typically recruiting faculty with higher degrees and enrolling only a small proportion of qualified high school graduates into undergraduate programmes.
Yet, there is some realization that it is no use bemoaning the structural fact of a “missing generation” and the urgent task today is to cultivate newer generations of highly‐educated academics.