Cambodia & HCP update
The first half of this year was mostly taken up with University coursework. The School of Economics at UQ has been upgrading their profile by hiring a number of well published economists from around the world and making the PhD requirements a bit tougher… one of those requirements is to get a 5.7 GPA in three advanced subjects (Adv Microeconomics, Adv Macroeconomics, Adv Applied Econometrics). So 12 years since I was last a full-time student, I was back at my books discovering the joys of quasi-concave utility representations of continuous preference relations, non-parametric kernel density functions, and five different types of endogenous growth models. It’s not as much fun as it sounds.
But the coursework is now finished, so I can concentrate on my project (Human Capital Project) and my PhD research. To kick-start my project & research work, I arranged to head back to Cambodia in late July to catch up with my co-workers and make some contacts in the Cambodian bureaucracy who might be able to help with my research.
All went well. I caught up with Phann Sophon (Battambang), Muon Veasna (Phnom Penh), Srun Sarak (Kampong Cham), and many other volunteers who help with HCP. I also got to meet with Lay Sopagna who is the deputy director of research for the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC), which regulates Cambodian universities. It seems that ACC is keen to work with me in doing some research into the expected returns on higher education, so that is a good start. My other main goal for the trip was to check the progress of HCP’s only graduate so far — Nhim Chamnan. After nine months of work Nhim is doing well in the same job and is fully up to date with her payments. The project seems to be working.
Besides work, I finally got to try out the scuba diving out of Sihanoukville (not bad, but low vis), visit the relaxed and pretty town of Kampot, and play half a game of soccer with Muon’s team in Phnom Penh. Once again, I failed to score. And then after 46 hours in transit (20 hour stop-over in KL) I finally made it back to Australia — the land of expensive beer and over-regulation.
My efforts now need to turn to reviewing the literature relevant to my PhD, getting a bank account for HCP and investigating tax-deductible status, and preparing for the 2011 intake of students into HCP which is due in September. If you would like to sponsor a new University student the price is $300/year (for four years), or make a one-off donation, or if you want to join me in my September trip to Cambodia, then please get in touch.