Sri Lanka’s tertiary education sector needs more private investments: Economist

May 19, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s public sector dominated education sector needs more private investments coming in through local or foreign channels to bridge the tertiary education gap, a senior economist said.

“Sri Lanka will have to seriously consider bringing in the private sector to bridge tertiary education gap in the country with the new government’s plan to increase education spending from 1.5 percent to 6 percent in the next five years,” Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies said.

“So this is why there is a very strong case with regard to the private sector coming into the tertiary education sector either as local or foreign direct investment,”

“Of course quality assurance is necessary and for that purpose a bill was drafted and was to be enacted in 2011 but due to student protest this was put aside.”

In Sri Lanka higher education has been a state monopoly and the public sector has not expanded adequately to meet the demand.

Sri Lanka has 15 tax-payer funded state universities and privately owned institutions are mostly affiliated colleges, which do not award their own degrees.

The government has just started to approve non-state universities.

“Only 20 percent get admission into university although a large number qualify for admission,”

“Of those who get left behind the ones who can afford go overseas to pursue their higher education and some Sri Lankan students are even studying the low income countries like Bangladesh and Nepal.” Kelegama said.

There are 200,000 students passing out following the successful completion of their secondary education with only 25,000 students qualifying to enter state universities.

According to the President’s election manifesto, university admissions will be doubled while provision will be made to those students who fail to gain admission to universities to study for a degree or a higher diploma through a concessionary higher education loan scheme.