The Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), formerly the Royal Khmer University, was founded on 13th January 1960. It opened with a faculty of Letters and Humanities and a faculty of Science and Technology. The language of instruction in this period was French. 

In 1970, the Royal Khmer University became Phnom Penh University. At that time, there were nine faculties: Letters and Humanities, Sciences, Pharmacy, Law and Economics, Medicine and Dentistry, Commerce, Pedagogy, Language Institute, and the National Administration School. 

The University was re-opened as the Teacher Training College in 1980 and as the Foreign Language Institute (FLI) in 1981. In 1988, the College and the FLI merged to create Phnom Penh University, and in 1996 it was renamed the Royal University of Phnom Penh. 

In recognition of the future trend that students in secondary schools must learn foreign languages, either English or French, the Ministry of Education with an Australian NGO called the Quaker Service Australia (QSA) established a Cambodian English Language Training Program (CELT) to provide English language training to government officials and train foreign language teachers for secondary schools in Cambodia. 

CELT began in 1985 when QSA undertook development of English language training in Cambodia, sponsored by the Australian government. The project grew significantly over the three phases of 1985-88, 1988-1991, and 1991- 1993, expanding from 15 to 150 students by 1993. The program was taught by a Cambodian teacher in 1985 and then by Australian teachers. 

The Department of English was established with financial and academic assistance from QSA to provide training in English and teacher training. The department was managed by QSA until 1993, then handed over to a joint project between International Development Program (IDP) Education, Australia, and the University of Canberra. This project was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) until the end of 1996. When the joint project took over the department in 1993, a four-year B.Ed (TEFL) degree curriculum for the program was designed and prepared with consultants from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia. In 1997, a four-year BA in English for Work Skills was introduced to enhance English knowledge and skills for current and future employment. 

Regarded as Cambodia’s leading English language institution, today, IFL’s Department of English has graduated over 7,000 students. 


The Department of English will be a national leader in English language education, research, and human resource development with regional and international quality standards. 


  1. To produce highly qualified graduates with marketable skills and disciplined character 
  2. To promote patriotism, social engagement, continuous professional development, and life-long learning 
  3. To meet increased market demand for IT-assisted English language education, research, and ELT management  
  4. To satisfy stakeholders by providing high quality professional training, research outputs, and services
  5. To build local, regional, and international partnerships