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1. Sri Lanka is a country which blessed with rich human and natural resources. Even though we do not have enough natural resources such as oil or gases which bring dollars to country we are rich with human resources but we have unable to maximize the potentialities of Sri Lankan growing population. Since it's a sure way for a any individual to go up in the social ladder which economist call social mobility. tesiary education is believed to be the key factor to enrich the human capital which that enhancement will open up new opportunities to earn income in permanent basis.
2. We now live in a incredibly competitive world and its totally deferent from our past generation. Present competitive frame of mind amongst countries on more for natural resources as it in earlier now it is in the field of high quality skilled human resources and the foremost competitive weapon of the new era will be the higher education and skillful workforce.
3. Having a recorded high standard of literacy rate in the Asia does Sri Lankan higher education system provide enough opportunities in the fields of high education? Hence, unavailability of adequate higher education opportunities in Sri Lanka and the possible solutions to overcome the problem is of vital.
4. This service paper will discuss the establishment of a feasible, sustainable and worth value, assured private university system in the country and its sensible necessity as well as merits and de merits of it.
5. Aim of this paper is to examine and evaluate the opening of Private Universities in Sri Lanka on different aspects and present recommendations for the same. Today the subject matter becomes recurrent among many intellectuals, professionals, academics, youths and various others. All these ideas and suggestions are analyzed and to streamline common solution which can be suitable for all relevant.
PRESENT SITUATION OF TERTIARY EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES
6. Education system in Sri Lanka was massively expanded with the independence of the country in order to response to the rising struggles of the working class. Higher education in Sri Lanka has been based on the several prominent Pirivenas during the local Kingdoms. University of Ceylon which was established in 1942 with its first campus in Colombo and second campus in Peradeniya later was the first ever tertiary institutes in Ceylon. In the year 1972 University of Ceylon was rename as University of Sri Lanka. Later Colombo and Peradeniya campuses had become as University of Colombo and University of Peradeniya respectively. At present Sri Lanka have 16 public universities. They include university of Colombo, university of peradeniya. university of sri Jayawardanapura, university of Jaffna, university of moratuwa, university of ruhuna, eastern university of sri lanka,uwa wellassa university, south eastern university of sri lanka. University of visual and arts, Sabaragamuwa university,wayamba university.
7. All these universities are controlled by University Grants Commission (UGC) of Sri Lanka. All these universities are operated as state own entities and there are many difficulties in these universities. Sri Lanka may do not need private universities if the country could allocate sufficient amount of funds to invest on update and expand the state universities
The country. In each consecutive year thousands of students are loose higher education opportunities and they deprived their one of basic fundamental right of a this modern world. Absolute waste of our rich human resources. According to the statistics of UGC in the year 2009 percentage of general education was 70.23 and it was only a 4.1 in the university education. Percentage eligible for university admissions in year 2009 was 62.78 and admission as a percentage of eligibility was only 16.1 which very clearly depict the disparity of the two elements. Due to limited resources available in public universities, it is impossible to cater all students who pass the G. C. E. (A/L) Examination. As a result of this situation, many other are forced to go for other tertiary educational options. Analytical explanation about the fact as per the UGC records is given below:
8. Educational Indicators of year 2001 - 2009 by UGC.
Age-specific Enrolment Ratios (per 100).
General Education (Age 5 - 19 yrs)
University Education (Age 20 - 24 yrs)
Progression to University from GCE (A/L).
Percentage Eligible for University Admissions
Admission as a
Percentage of Eligible
9. Sri Lanka could not expand university education system in the past and now situation has drastically changed, where either Sri Lanka has to invest enough money from its own budget to enhance higher education or it has to allow private universities to provide higher education in Sri Lanka rather than wasting skills and talents of our future generation. The second option is more viable and beneficial to Sri Lanka right now.
10. Sri Lanka could not allocate sufficient enough amount of money in its financial budgets for higher education in the last few decades mainly because of war and many other reasons. Consequently, only limited numbers of students were offered placements to continue higher education courses in Sri Lankan universities. Moreover, numbers of academic staff recruitment also limited with financial constraints.
11. Establishment of private university is relatively new phenomenon in many parts of world. Many countries do not have such universities. Western countries particularly do not have many private universities. There are only a few private universities in England, Germany, and France and in some countries in the West. In reality they do not need such universities in those countries. The governments in these countries allocate a large percentage from their budgets for higher education and provide excellent teaching resources. They have a large numbers of state universities in their countries.
12. Due to the limited number of state universities and non availability of private universities, most of the capable and intelligent students from both urban and village areas are deprived of their higher education by denying entry to universities. They are not only depriving one of the basic rights of those students who also deserve higher education and a degree, but also a well educated work force from which the country can benefit.
COMPARISON BY WAY OF OTHER COUNTRIES
13. India does not export gold, diamonds and gems today rather it exports higher skilled professionals to developed countries. It generates much more income from this higher skilled workforce than any other exports. The same may apply to China too. To quote throws again natural resources have dropped out of the competitive equation. Having them is not the way to become rich. Not having them is not a barrier to becoming rich. Japan doesn't have them and is rich. Argentina has them and is not rich either. Similarly Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and some other countries do not have substantial amount of natural resources yet due to higher quality of human resources these countries economically booming and rapidly developing compared to many other counties with huge natural resources. Moreover, many international companies looking for skilled work forces and they do not care from where these higher skilled work forces come from. For instance, many international companies have their call handling and administrative centre in India because India has skilled work force who could work in these centres for cheaper price than in England.
14. Bangladesh introduced private universities in 1990's and they are doing well both in private and public universities and they have expanded both sectors of universities and still there is a good demand for public universities in Bangladesh. In most of the developed and developing countries higher education is not free. Education is free only up to secondary level. The developed countries are today faced with the major problem of an aging population and a low population growth. Lack of opportunities for higher education in Sri Lanka has given some of the rich nations the opportunity to take advantage of this unfortunate situation. They have adopted a new practice where the developed countries encourage potential migrants to first come as students paying huge sums of dollars as tuition fees, accommodation fees and living expenses before they are considered to be accepted as permanent residents of those countries.
IMPACT ON ECONOMY AND THE ADVANTAGERS TO COUNTRY AS A
15. Many poor students with huge potentialities wasted their lives because they could not afford to go aboard to continue their higher education. Neglecting and wasting the potentialities of our human resource skills have already hindered the rapid development of this country for the last few decades.
16. A large majority of our capable students are forced to terminate their education at secondary level. The students, who could not afford tertiary education in foreign countries, become underutilized resources. They have the talents and willingness but unfortunately they don't have the opportunity to flourish. While the opportunity provided by the free education system should be acknowledged with gratitude.
17. The introduction of private universities will bring many benefits to Sri Lanka and it will help to reform and update our university education as a whole. While we welcome the efforts to introduce private universities in Sri Lanka a lot need to be done to upgrade public universities too. Spending money on education is an investment and in this case, it is an investment in the most desirable and productive capital of the day, namely investment in human capital. Sri Lanka should open up its university education system not only to preserve foreign exchange, but also to improve its human capital stock with quality education available within its own borders.
18. If we take Asian countries, I am sure we are having the highest number of students doing foreign exams on higher studies such as CIMA, Engineering Council, BCS, and ACS and so on. Many developed countries earn quite a portion of their national GDP by selling education. Just imagine the amount of foreign exchange our country is spending on all these foreign exams. All these can be reduced if private universities are allowed. In the business sense, it brings in more money into the country. It will also provide more business to the universities as more students get enrolled. As students pay form their own money they would not like to see any interruption in their course of studies. It is in their interest not to interrupt their studies and they take some responsibilities to complete their courses of study on time. Students in public universities do not have this sense of responsibility as they receive education free of charge and they do not value their education.
19. If the Sri Lankan students who can go abroad spending thousands of dollars to countries ranging from USA, UK, Australia, Russia to China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal to do their higher studies, why cannot they do it in their home country which will at least reduce the foreign exchange spent and will provide a secure atmosphere for the students specially female students are considered. If an opportunity is given, it will not only save valuable foreign exchange but also will bring children of expatriates back to the country for higher education which will again not only bring foreign exchange but also create many jobs to local people.
20. Unlike state universities where old curriculums are based on, regular updated curriculum can be maintained in private universities. When curriculums are updated, it is possible to align knowledge and skills provided in the courses with the current requirements of the job markets. So that those who would be graduated with necessary skills and knowledge levels that satisfy industry requirements, can easily find a job. Thus following industry relevant degrees unemployment can be reduced and most importantly useful work force for country can be produced. This will provide higher skilled professionals.
21. If private universities are established successfully, foreign students can also be attracted as for education is one of the main sources of income in some developed countries. Sri Lanka is also potential to generate income to country through private universities. Opening of private universities can be enjoyed not only students but also various academics like lecturers, professors and etc. In this borderless world any countries that have good higher skilled work force could find employment opportunities in international job markets.
22. What are some of Disadvantage of establishing private universities in Sri Lanka? First of all Sri Lanka is one of the third world countries and most of its students come from rural background and from poor families. Since independence Sri Lanka has been providing free education at least without charging tuitions fees for university education. This has helped thousands of undergraduates in Sri Lanka. Without such assistance and help higher education of thousands of students would not have been possible in Sri Lanka. Introduction of private university in Sri Lanka may pay the way to introduce admission fees into public universities also. Universities may become profits making institutions in a long run. With elevated price for commodities every day it would be impossible for poor families to send their children to universities with tuition fees. Unlike in western countries in Sri Lanka we do not have a system of financial helps or loans for the students to facilitate.
23. With the introduction of private universities Sri Lanka may experience some western cultural influence in students' university life. When international students come from all other world especially from western nations they will bring with them their way of life, culture, traditions and habits which may not go hand in hand with our culture. Regulations to measure and monitor the quality of education in private universities are not set up yet. It is necessary to monitor quality of higher education because future of youth is depended on it.
24. Our modern world has already turned out to be borderless world through information revolution that brings countries so closer than ever. Human beings may live in North and South Poles but they are now connected every seconds of minute. That is the reality of world today.
25. With the expansion of the middle class which normally takes place with the progressive growth of an economy, the demand for university education too expands phenomenally. But if the local university system cannot satisfy that demand, students have no choice than to seek facilities available elsewhere for higher education. Opening of private universities in the country will provide an alternative for the existing situation.
26. We should not too much bother about these concerns because introduction of private universities does not mean that it is an end for free education. Higher Education ministry should introduce some strict rules and regulations to regulate private universities in Sri Lanka otherwise, these private universities will become profit making institutions with government approval. Also these institutions could become at some stage degree certificates printing factories unless the government has strict rules to monitor examination establishments and procedures. Hence, a quality assurance, financial viability and continuous surveillance can identified as essential prerequisites of opening up of the country's university education to the private sector. Overall, advantages of introducing private institutions and universities in Sri Lanka are more than disadvantages.
27. whether Sri Lanka wants to produce a community of graduates that meet local needs of Sri Lanka or it wants produce a community of graduates who could work anywhere in the world of our global village? Is it possible that some of us dream to live in water tight compartments away from international communities at this age of information technologies and globalization?
28. We cannot dream to have one hundred percent perfect universities in Sri Lanka free of all mistakes. We are all human beings and we may make mistakes by our own nature. Yet what I strongly condemn is all types of discriminations that have been done with or without intentionally ultimately penalize some students. This is not a good practice for the future of our country and as result of this discriminative attitudes many highly qualified people will be left out and less qualified people will get into the ladder of promotions and some of them would not have efficiency to perform in their professions when time comes.
29. However, this venture of private university establishment in Sri Lanka is an experimental project. It is predicted that this venture will be a successful project as there is a good demand for higher education in Sri Lanka. More importantly, Sri Lankan policy makers on education should learn and share the experience of private universities in countries such as Bangladesh, so that we could have an excellent system of education in Sri Lanka to meets needs and demands of our time. May be our policy makers, officials in higher education ministry need some international exposure and educational excursions to learn more about higher education systems in the rest of the world. There are lots of highly qualified Sri Lankan academics, professionals and educationalist in abroad and it is high time that Sri Lankan higher education ministry to consult these people and get more solid ideas from these Sri Lankan talents. Obviously, out of their own patriotism and love for their mother land they will contribute to our education with their experience and knowledge. Therefore it is high time that the higher education ministry has such innovative ideas to share experience of Sri Lankan expatriates now.
30. It is observed with great interest that there is some exceptional turn of events happening in Sri Lanka for a complete restore of the outdated educational system, which should consider as an utmost important step towards achieving the status of "Miracle of Asia".
31. Objective of this paper is to identify recommendations for opening private universities in Sri Lanka and to achieve this objective, first current situation is analyzed and then advantages and disadvantages are observed. Finally, recommendations can be identified and those recommendations can be discussed as follows:
32. Continuous financial viability is important because if a private university is mismanaged and becomes bankrupt, the students who go through the system and have not yet completed their degrees cannot be left in the lurch. Then, it will become a liability of the state to take over such institutions and rehabilitate them as has happened in a number of cases in the past.
33. The United Kingdom, when it started to open up its higher education system to the private sector, set up a Quality Assurance Agency or QAA to advise the Privy Council which has the power to grant degree awarding status to any private educational institution. Such a monitoring body should be introduced for better functioning of our context too. It is therefore necessary 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. Creating a favorable environment for private investment in university education requires developing new legislation, regulations and accreditation policies.
34. Sri Lanka should do careful planning before introducing private universities to its higher education system. 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 justify those who are opposed to private universities. Above all, the community too will lose a valuable opportunity to enhance its higher education opportunities.
35. Government and the University Grants Commission could give approval to private universities or any other higher education establishments in the country, charging a tuition fee and allowing them to grant degrees, while ensuring that there is a quality control mechanism and degrees are not simply sold. The government should allow private universities which of course should be affiliated to the local existing ordinary state universities or well recognized international universities that can provide world class international standard education in the country. All the admissions, curriculums, examinations, awarding of degrees should be supervised accordingly. Since education should be geared to meet national goals. They should discourage poor standard affiliated institutes. There should be certain guidelines on which universities can enter our country. The degrees, diplomas they offer here should be the same as they offer back home and should be internationally recognized.
36. Another alternative is for the government is to either increase the number of universities or expand the established universities in Sri Lanka to accommodate students for a payment basis whilst continuing the free education system, somewhat similar to those government hospitals with paying wards. It will not only allow many to obtain higher education paying tuition fees but also help the universities to offer more seats for free education to the under privileged. It is in the interest of each child born in this country that Sri Lankan authorities urgently reviews and reassesses its education policies in higher education.
37. We are living in a world of knowledge based economies. Sri Lanka urgently needs some private academic institutions, universities and colleges to update its education system and to reform pedagogies of teaching and learning in universities so that it may produce graduates and post graduates to meet international high skilled professional markets. Moreover, Sri Lanka may attract thousands of international students from many countries more importantly from South Asian countries. These are the possible suggested recommendations that can bring out as the out come of this paper is concerned.