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Sun, 19 April 2015 13:35:02
Sri Lanka should allow private universities: Central Bank
11 Apr, 2008 22:03:06
April 11, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka's Central Bank has called for laws to be changed to allow private universities to be set up to bridge the skills gap in the country.
There is an urgent need for introducing a market oriented, efficient mechanism to the existing university education system, the bank said in its 2007 annual report.

The education sector also needs a quality assurance rating system to help parents and students make informed choices regarding university education.

"Increasing private investments in university education could produce greater benefits including enhanced access to university education," the bank said.

Private investments would also help improve the quality of education with the increased competition.

"Creating a favourable environment for private investment in university education requires developing new legislation, regulations and accreditation policies," the bank said.

It suggested the government could seek alternative methods to encourage private investment in university education such as establishment of private degree awarding colleges or institutions in selected disciplines.

The government could also allow the establishment of affiliated university colleges, and joint or collaborative degrees, scholarships and research programmes with public universities.

The existing university education system could be improved with proposed and ongoing reforms aimed at improving the quality of education, expanding the intake and creating a more competitive environment.

The island's higher education system has been in crisis for several years with the government not having enough funds to upgrade the universities.

As a result the majority of those who qualify for university entrance where education is free are unable to get places on campus.

Pressure from leftwing politicians also prevents the government from privatising the universities or enabling more private sector investment in higher education.

The Central Bank said admission to university education is extremely competitive, and not more than 14 percent of those who qualify could gain admission to a university.

The bank also noted that education standards and quality of private institutions are not assured by any regulatory authority.

"Reports on some of these institutions indicate that they are affiliated to dubious institutions abroad."

The bank said foreign universities in developed countries and neighbours such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh serve as a 'safety valve' for Sri Lankan students who cannot gain admission to a local university.

Foreign qualified graduates are more in demand by the private sector than locally qualified ones.

This leaves "a vast array of local graduates unemployed, making it necessary for the government to employ them eventually as the 'employer of last resort', the bank said.

"One of the major problems of the university education in Sri Lanka is the mismatch between the supply and the demand," the bank said.

"The country has a supply driven university education system with insignificant relevance to labour market and economic requirements.

"About 32 per cent of the students admitted to local universities study social sciences and humanities and a significant proportion of such graduates find it difficult to obtain productive employment; they remain unemployed or underemployed for a long period of time leading to frustration and creating social problems."

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6. Damayanthi Apr 05
I suppose this the time to think about everybody why we have to force government to establish private university education in SL. Specially foreign exchange outflow. It is not possible to even middle class to send there children to foreign countries.
5. lakshman Dalpadado Jan 21
Private medical colleges means rich kids from middle class back grounds get in and more often than not, do get better grades! The fact is , on the average, they make better doctors than graduated from lower income groups. That has been the experience in UK. This is what the average village student fears -- the best jobs going to English speaking Colombo 7 Elite.

UK has a policy of elitism( Book review- ' in favour of elitism' ) and interviews for medical school admissions are conducted well before the publishing of A level results. Interviews are conducted to check on the family back grounds, personality and motivation of students in addition to paper qualifications. There are instances where 4 straight As have been refused entry to top Medical Colleges. More than 15% of SL undergraduates are not suitable to undertake university education due to metal ill health according to the Dean of Peradeniya University- and I agree. This is why we have rude doctors, nurses etc.

Most of the top specialists in Sri Lanka are from middle class families. Specialist programmes are long and tedious. Graduates from poor backgrounds usually go into private practice or leave for greener pastures due to economic reasons. 90% of the graduates from Jaffna are in USA or UK. The last thing they want to do is to go into practice in Jaffna where everyone is related -- and you cannot charge from your relatives in Jaffna. Thats what Tamil doctors say anyway!

The standard of English has fallen across the board and this has had an unexpected benefit to the Health Service. Mostgraduates fail foreign entry exams for UK, USA and Australia and now there are enough doctors to man peripheral hospitals. Most had great difficulty filling vacancies in the past

. In the 1980s Sri Lanka had the highest pass rates in the world when it came to Foreign entry exams like PLAB in UK ( over 90%). Now SL has one of the lowest- about 10%

In Sri Lanka, there is anti-rich and anti-private undertones, and everything revolves around rich people Vs poor people. Not right or wrong-- or justice and fair play!!

4. Jan 16
Why the ugc can't allow private medical colleges to be set up under the government regulations?
3. janaka Apr 24
My question is why UGC can't recognize the prioritized sectors and why they can't introduce those to current universities with the financial support of private sector?
2. tara de mel Apr 12
The Central Bank Report has no doubt stated the obvious on the long proposed and attempted changes to liberalise higher education in the country. It should be lauded however for making the case for privatising higher education so cogently.

What it has failed to high light (according this news item) is that SriLanka stands out, as being the only country in the South Asian region that has kept university education legally as a monopoly of the Govt.

1. I Bunkum Apr 12
Bravo Cabraal, Bravo!
Hope you will have the courage to guide Mahinda mama away from Comrade Somawansa's local university only policy{while his own kids are in UK Universities}