Higher education system in Cambodia was established in the 1940s, significantly developed in the 1960s, and experienced a decline in the 1970s due to the chronic civil war. The system was completely destroyed by the Democratic Kampuchea regime from 1975 to 1979. In early 1979, education systems at all levels had been restored from scratch with a severe lack of materials, finance and human resources. However, with great efforts by the government, education higher in Cambodia was reestablished in the 1980s.
In response to an increase in access to higher education and a rapid growth in the enrolment of higher school students that exceeded the capacity of public HEIs to absorb, the Royal Government of Cambodia introduced an open policy by allowing privatization in higher education in the mid of the 1990s. The trend of privatization in higher education has gained its significant momentum since 2002.
In addition to an expansion of higher education institutions that suited the increasing number of students, the Royal Government of Cambodia has also introduced policies on quality assurance in higher education with a view to promoting capacity building of human resources with high technical skills and scientific knowledge relevant , to the demands of the labor market, which include entrepreneurship, high creativity, work consciousness, highly professional responsibilities, honesty, discipline, ethics, and gratitude. These policies also encourage the cooperation between the private sector, national and international communities in order to enhance the educational quality at all levels, including secondary education, technical and vocational training, and higher education to be in line with the international standards and national development needs.
With the help from the World Bank and foreign experts, in March 2003 the Royal Decree on Accreditation (RDC) of HE was created. The purpose of this RDC is to establish a legal mechanism for administering the accreditation of higher education for all higher educational institutions (HEIs) to ensure that their quality of academic programs is promoted and quality management systems are effective and consistent with international standards, and to determine the organization of structure, roles, functions, and duties regarding the administration of the accreditation process of higher education for all HEIs which grant degree programs in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Following the course of these policies, in June 2003 the Royal Government of Cambodia set up a public and independent agency, called Accreditation Committee of Cambodia (ACC), whose mandate is to administer accreditation to all higher education institutions to ensure and promote the quality of higher education in Cambodia to meet the national and international standards, and to develop its standards, policies, procedures, management structures, roles, functions, and responsibilities in order to provide institutional accreditation to HEIs, offering degree programs ranging from Bachelor to Doctoral degrees in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Never before has Cambodia had such an accreditation agency; therefore, accreditation is a relatively new concept for higher education in Cambodia. These indicate a historical accomplishment of the Royal Government of Cambodia.