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Human Resource of a nation forms the sound basis for its sustainable economic and social development. Human capability development is an essential precondition for successful achievement of poverty alleviation, sustained economic growth and social progress. As the economy of a country grows, the demand for different types and levels of skills in different sectors expands. In the context of the globalization, it is necessary to develop appropriate human resource required to meet the changing demands. More over to day we are in a knowledge base economy. In this context higher education is utmost important. And also investment in education is a long term investment. As a prime organization in the world UNESCO recognized education as the most important single factor for a country’s development. More importantly when we consider about the national interest of the country high education has close bearing on it obviously.
2. The aim of this paper is to examine the implications of emerging private universities in Sri Lanka in order to identify reachable solutions for not to get effect the existing system.
PRESENT SITUATION OF THE ISSUE
3. The establishment of private universities was a topic in Sri Lankan media for the last few years. There were attempt being taken during last two decade but due to the influences raised by the different societies and public indicating that it could have serious implications for social stability they were hindered times to time. Even though at the mid of last year there are
around 78 private institutions which offer degree courses were operating without direct link to higher education ministry. But today it has increased and set up being arranged to open up private medical colleges which produce doctors also.
4. The issue was again highlighted due to the reason that few of them were emerge recently. Among those most sensitive issue was opening of private medical colleges make huge cry in the recent past in the country. Due to that there were series of protest launched by under graduates with country wide awareness program followed by few of demonstrations. Beside it became a storm centre in the politics in this country.
5. As the ministry of higher education recently reviled, there are around seventy three private institutes have established in the country. Some of them have commenced degree courses. Even though these institutes had no direct link to the higher education ministry they prepare students for the degrees offered by foreign universities with having their registration at the Board of investment .They have registered as private companies. Although ministry is still preparing legal drafts and standers for the establishment of branches of foreign universities in Sri Lanka .According to their sources there are eight private university institutes which have been given recondition under section of 25 A of the universities Act to awards some selected degree program .
Specially about the recent emerge private medical collages they maintain on par with provisions of Regulation for the Medical Education (Minimum Standers) Regulation No. 1 of 2008 of the ministry of Health by extraordinary Gazette Notification No. 1590/ 13 dated 23 February 2009 and the WHO/ WFME guide lines on accreditation in basic medical education.
6. It’s significant that the existing system for the higher education in the country is pacing number of serious problems .Over the decades issues are getting more complex where at this point which cannot amendable to simple solution. Due to quantitative and qualitative limitations the nature of this mater becoming worst to national interest also.
THE EXISTING UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IN SRI LANKA
7. The university system in Sri Lanka operates within the framework laid down in the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978. The selection of students for admission to undergraduate courses in the universities is a task assigned to the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the said Act. The UGC carries out this task in consultation with the Universities, Campuses, and Institutes. The UGC selects students for admission to undergraduate courses. Following Higher Educational Institutes have setup under the Universities Act and the name of these are attached at annex A.
a. National Universities – 14
b. Campuses – 03.
c. Institutes – 05
8. Admission of students to universities in Sri Lanka is being done on the basis of an admission policy laid down by the UGC with the concurrence of the government. Policy for selection of students for admission to universities is based on the rank order on average Z scores obtained by candidates at the particular G.C.E. (A/L) Examination. Z scores are released to candidates by the Commissioner General of Examinations.
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION
9. Candidates who are pronounced eligible by the Commissioner General of Examinations
should have to obtained;
a. At least ‘S’ grades; in all three approved subjects.
b. A minimum mark of 30% for the common general paper.
10. With all of above, the challenges face by some of our public universities are enormous. Few of them are shortage of qualified academic staff, lack of facilities for students, lack of training programs for academic staffs, problems of salaries increment, students’ clashes, struggle with politicians are some of these challenges.
DO THE COUNTRY HAS A REAL REQUIREMENT TO ESTABLISHING PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
11. What I see in this issue the significant factor is quantitative limitation. Admission to universities is extremely competitive. Prevailing state- run universities are not in a position to accommodate the number of students who get qualified annually. And also the government could not able to find out a solution overnight to expand or open new universities in the country. When we consider about statistics in year 2009, there were 250000 students who sat for G.C.E. Advance level examination and 130,000 were qualified for university entry. Out of 130,000 students only 21,547 students were selected into the state universities. This will ended up with most of the capable and intelligent students from both urban and village areas are deprived of their higher education by denying entry to universities. Hence these valuable resources will become underutilized resources even though have the talents and willingness, this unfortunate system have denied their opportunity of getting flourish. Apart from that following reasons can be identified as some of reasons for need of private universities.
a. Lack of Doctors. It is significant that lack of doctors is a burning issue to the country .Ratio wise, when compared to the population, the number of doctors in this country is very low. It is about 60 doctors per each 100000 people, where country like Italy having 590 doctors for the same. The state sector could annually produce only 1600
doctors. There for Sri Lanka needs private medical colleges since the state-runs medical universities alone can not meet the demand for doctors.
b. Loss of foreign exchange. To day competitive world’s job market demanding professionals and skilled workers. Rather sending unskilled ordinary workers we can earn quit considerable higher amount of foreign exchange to the country. Same way today considerable amount of students from middle class and above are going abroad spending thousands of dollars to do their higher studies. In future it could increase many more due to the emergence of international schools in the country. Even with lot of difficulties parents won’t decide to stop loving children’s education half way. Then it will boost up spending of foreign exchange.
c. Providing services for world job market. Increasing opportunities to develop human resources in a country like Sri Lanka is much important to achieve economic and social development. Because country like ours could not gain sustainable industrial development in a short term process.
d. Competition. According to the capitalist theory and the competition it will enhances the quality of goods and services to stand against the competition. It also can recognize as a factor to be considered.
RELATED ORGANIZATIONS VIEWS ON THE ISSUE
12. When we consider about the views of related authorities, some of them are opposing private universities due to varies reasons .Few of those organizations views are listed as follows.
a. Ministry of Higher Education. Higher educational ministry recently reviled that, there around seventy three private institutes which offered degree courses. These institutes had no direct link with higher education ministry.
b. University Grants Commission (UGC ). The Chairman of UGC has reviled that these private universities and medical colleges would not come under the purview of the UGC. The institutions would be established as Board f Investment projects. There is still no system to monitor them.
c. Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA). Assistant Secretary of the GOMA has said that, the GMOA has not taken any decision so far on the issue of establishing private medical schools in the country.
d. All Ceylon Government Medical Officers Association (ACGMOA). President of ACGMOA has said that they are totally against the private medical college project as it could lead to create substandard medical professionals. They are claming that, it would open opportunities for those who unqualified to the medical sector. Further they are in a opinion that any person who just gets thought the advance level exam in Bio Science stream could become a doctor if he or she has got the money and no one to assure their knowledge and skills?
e. Inter University Student Federation (IUSF). Convener of the (IUSF) has opposed due to reason that free education is been privatized with the blessing of the government. They are with the opinion that, the plan to set up private universities is a severe threat to the free education system.
DEMERITS OF PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
13. When we consider about private university concept for higher education sector with out proper planning and consideration it could cause multi dimensional effects to the country’s education system. Even though it carries number of positive effects less negative effects could cause entire system ineffective and change. When I study about this mater in an unbiased stance following demerits were identified.
a. When we consider about the population distribution in the country, it has reviled by a recent concession out of 20 million of population more than 17 million population consist with rural areas. Out of that about 13 million people counted to rural poor community. With that we could derived that, most of university students are coming from rural areas and from poor families. Since the independence Sri Lanka has been providing free education at least without charging tuitions fees for university education. With the blessing of that they have benefited to access the knowledge with out any of social disparity. Establishment of private universities will lead state university staff being designated to private universities where they will be paid higher salaries. It is a one of significant issue at present among the enormous problems of state universities having and it could directly effect to destruction of state universities. Then above mentioned major group will come across an unfortunate situation.
b. With the establishment of private universities in the country it will lead to a competition between state runs universities. If the private sector will become stronger and ahead of state universities it could lead to a draw back. As usual vulnerability of getting affected is higher than grooming up. Apart from that I have identified following questions and the possible answers could stand as demerit to the issue.
c. These proposed universities will be profit making institutions and if they do not make profit then what will happen?
d. If the ministry of higher education don’t have viable concern with these institution, who will ensure the credibility of these organizations?
e. When it formulate comprehensive legal frame work?
g. Who will monitor the quality of these degrees? what recognition will it gain in future?
h. With introduction of private universities, will Sri Lanka may experience some western cultural influence in students’ university life?
14. Today high education is a paramount important factor to consider by any country on its perception. It will decide the future perspectives in order to pace many of challenges. Since today we are in a knowledge base economy, national level close concern is much needed to ensure effective functioning in this sector.
15. When we consider about introducing of private universities to higher education system is a very sensitive mater which has multi dimensional results to the country .It should require careful planning in national level. Any rush job that does not consider quality, viability and sustainability of new private universities is condemned to failure. It will simply discredit the private university system as a whole and vindicate those who are opposed to private universities. Above all, the community too will lose a valuable opportunity to enhance its higher education opportunities.
16. All higher educational institutions should function under the preview of the state and monitored by its agencies. This is more important due to the reason that it has close bearing to the national interest of the country. Beside the provision of higher education facilities has a close relevance to social equity issues. In that university system of a country plays a vital role to produce well educated resource personal to the country.
17. While the opportunity provided by the free education system should be acknowledged with gratitude it is now quite obvious that State universities alone cannot guarantee every qualified student’s right to a university education. Therefore establishing of private universities will increase the opportunities for higher education.
18. Based on my study and findings it could give following Recommendations to overcome de merits and develop our higher education system:
a. Set up an independent commission to study and examine the entire system of higher education in Sri Lanka. The importance of having such an authority is to makes the entire approval and continuous surveillance process free from politics.
b. The government would need to bring these private universities under it’s purview and supervision to ensure that they impart a quality education. This responsibility state should have to bear up. More importantly, Sri Lankan policy makers on education should study about how other countries handle the private universities.
c. University system has to be extremely separated with political influences. Who ever promote such allies strict actions has to be taken. As I mentioned above who ever recognized body should given due authority and responsibility sent out those student who misbehave from the universities. The university sector has to be functions with fewer or no disturbances.
d. More importantly, Sri Lankan policy makers on education should study about how other countries handle the private universities and how evaluate the possibilities of making this private entrepreneurship fruitful in this sector.
e. The government would need to bring these private universities under it’s purview and supervision to ensure that they impart a quality education. This responsibility state should have to bear up.
f. Actions should be taken to enhance the capacity of UGC if it is charged with the task of assuring quality, overseeing financial viability and continuous surveillance of the private universities to be set up under the new system.
g. Introducing English medium at universities is timely needed policy at this age of globalization and information revolution. But it has to be done in a gradual process. then it will make more easy to access to the knowledge. On the other hand it will make state universities on par with private universities with out making gap.
h. Actions should be taken to enhance the capacity of UGC if it is charged with the task of assuring quality, overseeing financial viability and continuous surveillance of the private universities to be set up under the new system.
i. One of important qualitative limitations is assurance of quality and recognition of degree program to be on par with those offered with reputed international universities. Due interest should taken by the authorities to find out these private university’s links, collation and affiliation with foreign universities.
GN EDINADURA CR
A. Higher Educational Institutes have setup under the Universities Act.
ANNEX A TO
DATED FEB 11
HIGHER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES UNDER THE UNIVERSITIES ACT
a. University of Colombo.
b. University of Peradeniya.
c. University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
d. University of Kelaniya.
e. University of Moratuwa.
f. University of Jaffna.
g. University of Ruhuna.
h. Eastern University, Sri Lanka.
i. South Eastern University of Sri Lanka.
j. Rajarata University of Sri Lanka.
k. Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka.
m. Wayamba University of Sri Lanka.
n. Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka.
o. University of the Visual & Performing Arts.
a. Sripalee Campus.
b. Trincomalee Campus.
c. Vavuniya Campus.
a. Institute of Indigenous Medicine.
b. Gampaha Wickramarachchi Ayurveda Institute.
c. University of Colombo School of Computing.
d. Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies.
e. Eastern University, Sri Lanka.
f. Ramanathan Academy of Fine Arts, University of Jaffna .
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