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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sri Lanka : Private University Bill Postponed

After weeks of escalating opposition, Sri Lanka's higher education minister has temporarily withdrawn a proposed Private University Bill. But he is hoping to present a quality assurance bill to parliament related to private higher education providers. Meanwhile, lecturers have joined students in protesting.

At a press conference Higher Education Minister SB Dissanayake said that the new Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Qualification Framework Bill is not a private university bill. Its objective is to monitor and regulate private degree-awarding institutions in Sri Lanka.

The original Private University Bill was intended to pave the way for foreign institutions to set up branch campuses in Sri Lanka, which has ambitions to become a higher education hub in Asia. There are already 59 registered private degree-awarding institutions, according to Dissanayake, and out of them 32 institutions are affiliated to local and foreign universities.

The bill's provisions have never been made fully public although a draft was approved by cabinet last year. A year later, it has yet to be tabled in parliament.

Student demonstrations against private universities, which led to the closure of two universities, had spread to at least seven other universities last week.