The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Angelo State University (ASU) – located in the US city of San Angelo in the state of Texas – on October 25 to strengthen higher education cooperation, expand both institutions’ scope of education and development programmes and to initiate an exchange student programme between the two universities.

ASU is a public university founded in 1928 that today offers over 100 degree-granting majors to its student body of roughly 10,000 enrolled in its six colleges. For the past 11 years they have been among the 13 per cent of US universities to make The Princeton Review list of top US schools, according to their website.

RUPP said in a press release on October 25 that the student exchange programme between the two institutions would take place through the “1 + 3 Foundation Programme”, which provides students with the opportunity to complete their foundational freshmen year at RUPP and then attend ASU for three years to earn their degree in biology, physics, chemistry, geography, civil engineering or mechanical engineering.

RUPP rector Chet Chealy told The Post after the ceremony that ASU intends to work with his university in a number of areas including the hard sciences and scientific research.

He noted that scientific research in the US is often done at universities rather than by the private sector because of the high cost of laboratories and the fact that research universities are generally publicly subsidised and therefore able to pursue theories or answer scientific questions that may not be immediately profitable in business terms but are important nonetheless.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport recommended that RUPP work with ASU to strengthen our institutions in this area. ASU will also review RUPP’s curriculum in this first year and then our administrators and teachers will work together on new curriculum going forward,” he said.

Chealy noted that only the best students from RUPP will be eligible for the exchange programme and that students with weak grades in their freshmen year will not be allowed to go to the US to do their second, third and fourth years at ASU.

Lee Won-jae, vice-president for academic affairs at the ASU’s department of security studies and criminal justice, said after the signing event that the 1+3 Foundation Programme presented a very special and unique opportunity for exchange students who are able to take full advantage of it.

“The main purpose of this programme is to help create, incubate and educate your students who have the potential to be future leaders of Cambodia in order to bring your country greater prosperity,” he said.