Private universities create vibrant hub

Millions of tourists travel to Cambodia every year to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, an influx that has helped transform a small, laid-back village into a thriving and cosmopolitan town. But the explosion of tourism has also done something less predictable. Siem Reap, which had no universities a decade ago, is now Cambodia’s second largest hub for higher education, writes Thomas Fuller for The New York Times.

The sons and daughters of impoverished rice farmers flock here to work as tour guides, receptionists, bartenders and waitresses. When their shifts are over, they study finance, English and accounting.

The establishment of five private universities is helping to transform the workforce in this part of Cambodia, one of Asia’s poorest countries and a society still living in the shadow of the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge. Employers say that English proficiency is rising and that workers who attend universities stand out for their ability to express themselves and make decisions. A generation of students who would otherwise have had little hope to study beyond high school are enduring gruelling schedules to get a degree and pursue their dreams.
Full report on The New York Times site